Class 5.2: Entrepreneurship

In the pre-Thanksgiving Class 5.2 of Cyberlaw and the Global Economy, we covered entrepreneurship in the developing countries context.  The basic question: what kind of a legal ecosystem would one want to create in order to foster the development of entrepreneurial activity in the ICT sector in the developing countries context?  We focused closely on the charts found in Section 2 of the Entrepreneurship module written by Jim Moore, Urs Gasser and me last Spring.

We picked up on the thread of class 5.1, in which we talked about the desirable technical architecture, and associated legal regime, for development of ICT-related entrepreneurial activity.  This week got more detailed, as we sought to force-rank the types of specific legal reforms (leaving aside meta issues, or “assembly rules,” like rule of law) that we would seek as policy-makers, or as entrepreneurs, in a developing country context.  The results, roughly:

First-order priorities:

* Antitrust/Competition law (generally, that monopolies are not good, or at least not good permanently, and particularly if they gouge or do other nasty things with their monopoly power)

* Communications law (entrepreneurs want assurances of cheap and reliable Net, and the ability to offer innovative ICT services without onerous licensing or other restrictions)

Debated as to whether first- or second-order priority:

* Civil liberties (some said that they have to come before everything else; others thought they could emerge from the environment of a vibrant middle class)

Second-order priorities:

* Intellectual property law (some thought that they’d want weak protections, some strong, some just level, others said it would vary completely based on business model)

* Commercial law, taxation, digital signatures, etc. (some said we should just do it because it would be less controversial than other reforms, but at the margins in terms of spurring activity in most developing countries settings)

* International trade law (everyone thought there would be some relevance, but not a burning need in this area)

One thing we did not return to, which I wanted to do: what exactly are we after here?  The creation of ICT-related businesses and the jobs they bring?  Or greater productivity for all businesses, consumers, others through use of new ICTs?

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