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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Internet Giants: The Law and Economics of Media Platforms by The University of Chicago

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About the Course

This seven-week course will explore the relationship between law and technology with a strong focus on the law of the United States with some comparisons to laws around the world, especially in Europe. Tech progress is an important source of economic growth and raises broader questions about the human condition, including how culture evolves and who controls that evolution. Technology also matters in countless other ways as it often establishes the framework in which governments interact with their citizens, both in allowing speech and blocking it and in establishing exactly what the boundaries are between private life and the government. And technology itself is powerfully shaped by the laws that apply in areas as diverse as copyright, antitrust, patents, privacy, speech law and the regulation of networks. The course will explore seven topics: 1. Microsoft: The Desktop vs. The Internet. We will start with a look at the technology path that led to the first personal computer in early 1975, the Altair 8800. That path starts with the vacuum tube, moves to transistors, then to integrated circuits and finally to the microprocessor. We will look at the early days of software on the personal computer and the competition between selling software and open-source approaches as well as the problem of software piracy. We will discus the public good nature of software. The 1981 launch of the IBM PC revolutionized the personal computer market and started the path to Microsoft's powerful position and eventual monopoly in that market with the selection of MS-DOS. We then turn to four antitrust cases against Microsoft: (1) the 1994 U.S. case relating to MS-DOS licensing practices; (2) the U.S. antitrust middleware case over Microsoft’s response to Netscape Navigator; (3) the European Union case regarding Windows Media Player; and (4) the EU browser case over Internet Explorer. These disputes arose at the point of maximal competition between the free-standing personal computer and the Internet world that would come after it and we may know enough now to assess how these cases influenced that competition. 2. Google Emerges (and the World Responds). Google has emerged as one of the dominant platforms of the Internet era and that has led to corresponding scrutiny by regulators throughout the world. Decisions that Google makes about its algorithm can be life altering. Individuals are finding it more difficult to put away past mistakes, as Google never forgets, and businesses can find that their sales plummet if Google moves them from the first page of search results to a later page. With great power comes scrutiny and we will look at how government regulators have evaluated how Google has exercised its power. Both the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the European Union have undertaken substantial investigations of Google’s practices and we will look at both of those. 3. Smartphones. The Internet started on the desktop but the Internet is increasingly mobile and people are seemingly tethered to their smartphones and tablets. And we have seen an interesting shift in that market away from Nokia handsets and the Blackberry to Apple's iPhone and its iOS platform and to the Android platform. The legal infrastructure of smartphones and tablets is extraordinarily complex. We will start by looking at U.S. spectrum policy and the effort to free up 500 megahertz of spectrum. We will look at the activities of standard setting organizations, including the IEEE and the creation of the 802.11 standard and Wi-Fi (or, if you prefer, wifi), the creation of patent pools and the regulation of standard essential patents. We will look at the FTC action against Google/Motorola Mobility and Apple's lawsuit against Samsung over utility and design patents relating to the iPhone. Finally, we will take a brief look at the European Commission's investigation into the Android platform. 4. Nondiscrimination and Network Neutrality. Facebook has more than 1 billion users and measure that against a world population of roughly 7 billion and a total number of Internet users of roughly 2.5 billion. A course on law and technology simply has to grapple with the basic framework for regulating the Internet and a key idea there is the notion of network neutrality. Nondiscrimination obligations are frequent in regulated network industries, but at the same, discrimination can be an important tool of design for communication networks. We will start our look at the Internet by looking at the great first communications network of the United States, the post office and will look in particular at the Post Office Act of 1845. We will then move to modern times and will consider efforts by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to produce sensible and sustainable nondiscrimination conditions for the Internet and will touch briefly on comparisons from around the world. 5. The Day the Music Died? In many ways, the Internet came first to music with the rise of peer-to-peer (p2p) music sharing through Napster and its successors. We start with a look into music platform history and the devices that brought recorded music into the home: the phonograph and the player piano. We turn to radio and the legal regime that puts music on the airwaves, the performing rights organizations like ASCAP and BMI. We look at the antitrust issues associated with the blanket license. We consider a failed music platform, digital audio tape, and the complicated legal regime associated with it, the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992. We will consider the copyright issues raised by the creation and distribution of music and the litigation over the p2p technologies such as Napster and Grokster. The music industry responded to p2p technology by adding digital rights management tools to CDs. As music distribution switched from physical media to digital distribution, we entered the world of Apple and the iPod and iTunes. We consider the DRM issues associated with Apple's music platform as seen by Steve Jobs. We conclude by looking at emerging subscription services like Spotify and the service that Apple is building based on its purchase of Beats. 6. Video: Listening and Watching. Images are some of the most powerful ways in which ideas and speech are communicated and video has long been regulated by the state. That starts as a communications law issue with government regulation of the radio spectrum, but also leads to the design of the television system with the assignment of channels and eventually the definition of digital television. And with the emergence first of cable TV and subsequently the VCR critical copyright roadblocks had to be overcome for new distribution technologies to emerge. We will consider the legal engineering that led to the DVD platform, which was an exercise in patent pools and trademark creation. We will sort through the creation of the digital TV platform and will also look at the copyright underpinnings for Netflix. And we will consider the question of technology neutrality in the content of the copyright fight over a new video distribution entrant, Aereo. Finally, we close the week with a brief look at the incentive spectrum auctions and the possible end of broadcast television. 7. The Mediated Book. Gutenberg revolutionized books with his printing press and for academics, books are sacred objects. But the printed book is on the run and with the rise of the ebook, we are entering a new era, the era of the mediated book. This is more than just a change in technology. We will look at the issues created by the rise of the ebook, issues about control over content and licensing and of the privacy of thought itself. We will also look at the legal skirmishes over this space, including the copyright fair use litigation over Google Books, the Apple e-book antitrust case. And we will look at the Amazon Kindle platform....

Top reviews


Apr 17, 2022

This course provided the background knowledge I needed on the Internet Giants and how they came to be so. Thank you Randy and all the people who worked behind the scenes to deliver this to us.


Feb 4, 2017

It was really really cool, I learnt a lot, the readings were always interesting, the course was well-structured, super understandable and easy to follow. I would recommend it wholeheartedly!

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1 - 25 of 221 Reviews for Internet Giants: The Law and Economics of Media Platforms

By Agustin J R C

Dec 30, 2018

Excelente contenido y exposición por parte del instructor. Únicamente requiere actualización de contenidos al 2018.

By Servenschi I A

Jan 29, 2019

Intellectually captivating!!

By Mary K

Oct 20, 2017

This is the first MOOC I have taken and, as such, it will set the standard for all subsequent MOOCs. This is a high bar, as the course content is comprehensive, clear, and fascinating. Not only are historic technological developments and intellectual property issues addressed, but seminal legal determinations and current controversies are presented as well.

A salient feature of this MOOC is its digestibility. Course modules are presented through series of ten minute streaming videos relating to a given topic. Thus the student can learn on the go and not be vexed by prolix downloads and losing one's place.

Also enjoyable is the creating of a participatory community for discussion and the accessibility of Professor Picker.

All in all a great experience. I was fearful that MOOCs would be "learning lite," but nothing could be further than the truth. The course has piqued my interest and motivated me to follow current developments.

By Bartlett M

Feb 28, 2016

I'm not very experienced with MOOC learning. I've attempted a course or two before but this is the first that I've started and finished. I suspect part of this different outcome may have to do with the way the course was presented by Professor Picker. In short, Professor Picker has a gift for appropriately contextualising information, reinforcing the key aspects of the subject matter and, perhaps, most importantly, keeping things interesting. As it turns out, mixing the typically challenging domains of law and economics can actually be exciting! Who knew?

To the extent that I am seeking to refine my own thinking in the technology policy space, this Course has gone a far way towards achieving that end result. I now feel that I have the the appropriate 'lens' for viewing quite a few of the developments in the internet space.

I'm happy that I took this course. 5 stars. Would definitely recommend.


Bartlett Morgan

By Damon R

Oct 31, 2015

Internet Giants is a great course! It's a tremendous value - you will learn a ton of GREAT content for little money, from a GREAT professor at a GREAT university. There are many positive things to say about the course, but I want to point out 3: (1) embedded hyperlinks that take the student directly to the reading material online, (2) the organization of the content into "threads" of historical developments of different types of "media platforms", and (3) the production and editing of the course videos are excellent. If you're a lawyer, technologist, economist, hi-tech business person, or are just curious about how hi-tech businesses are created, regulated, and evolve, you will get a lot out of this course.

By He G

Apr 21, 2020

I took and completed more than 6 courses on Coursera. Internet Giant by Randy was really the most fascinating and impressive course that I had the honor to take on this platform. Unlike most of the posed, seemingly perfect lecturers with their eyes fixed on the teleprompters and reading out fluently like AI robots, Randy’s old-fashioned lecture style, his high pitched voice, his sweater and dry humor really brought me back to the university campus. It’s very nostalgic, one of its kind, and thus very valuable. The curriculum is very well designed. I like how he frames each week’s topic. It's a shame that the course was produced in 2015 and since then many things happened in the tech world - it would be just awesome to hear Randy’s comments on and analysis of these new changes. The final exam is not as easy - 70 questions comprehensively covered the entire course content. In short, it's a high quality course that worth everybody's time to learn if you work in the mobile internet industry.

By José E M C

Aug 22, 2017

I think the course is great. The material is more than it seems because it has many layers. As an economist and practitioner of competition policy I found most of the examples very useful to understand the reasoning of judges (if that would be possible). The discussion on copyrights and competition are of most use to understand the limits of both, since very often arguments on copyright come to place in competition cases in this kind of industries. However, maybe the best of the course is how Professor Picker is able to mix and mach history with current events. The notion that technological development is not something new and that many of the discussions we have today had been taken before is very important in order not to lose ground in the analysis. I would like to thank Professor Picker for his effort, I also would like to enroll in future courses and actualizations of the present course he organizes.

By Abby R

Mar 15, 2016

This is an exceptional course. The quality of the lectures – course content, lecturing approach, and audiovisual production – is top-notch.

Randy Picker provides a fascinating, engaging look at various devices and platforms, starting with their history and then integrating legal considerations, particularly under antitrust and copyright law. He presents the material in an easily comprehensible and digestible way, and explores subjects (and objects) that are very relevant in the modern, connected, digitized, and (borrowing a word from this class) mediated world.

I learned a lot, enjoyed the lectures, and can see the application of what I learned outside the virtual classroom. Thank you!

By Alex D

Dec 28, 2016

It is a fantastic course that takes the audience through the world of tech's (media platforms) economics and law concepts and regulations. Studying the emergence of Microsoft, Google, Apple and many others, each module is built starting from the "historical artifacts" that either first acknowledged or regulated each of them and then slowly bringing them to today's modern standpoint.

From my point of view, Randy Picker and his team did a great job with this course in covering all aspects of each module. Moreover, he exceeds expectations by explaining correlated subjects and events, that ultimately ensures a better understanding of the whole phenomenon for each module.

Great course!

By Joseph T P

Jan 25, 2020

I worked in management and held executive roles in several Silicon Valley internet pioneers and co-founded multiple internet startups during the 90s and early 00s and 10s so I thought I knew a lot about Microsoft, Netscape, Apple and Google but this course taught me more than a few things about the legal and competitive market context these internet giants navigated and continue to operate in. Prior to the rise of the internet I worked for some of the largest players in broadcasting and electronic journalism -- I thoroughly enjoyed this course and learned a lot that enriched my understanding of the laws and economics of digital media platforms.

By Klára V

Apr 26, 2017

Considering that internet and media regulation is now the hot topic in policy discussions in both Europe and the US, I consider Mr. Picker's course to be especially useful and and up-to-date. I was more of a begineer in the field, which is why I found the course very informative. Mr. Picker seems to be funny and friendly, and he explains the material in an easily digestable way. As technologies are quickly evolving, I would like to take another course with Mr. Picker in the future, possibly focusing on topics we didn't focus that much in this series (especially social media, liability of intermediaries, but also e.g. privacy).

By Amit G

Apr 24, 2018

This is not a good to have course, but a must-have course.

I can easily claim, this is one of the best MOOC's I have ever come across. The course content is exemplary and the cherry on the cake is Randy Picker. Starting from week 1 onto week 9, I was always amazed with the amount of research he has done and the vast repository of knowledge he has.

Randy goes about explaining each concept in great detail, keeps a good pace and adds a special mix of humor and wisdom. I wish there were more such programs.

Brilliant stuff from the University of Chicago, Randy Picker and the team at Coursera.

By Stephen S

Sep 9, 2015

This was my first MOOC -- taken many years after I was last a student in a classroom. Though the subject matter was challenging (especially the legal aspects), I found Prof. Picker to be an affable "talking head" on my smartphone - someone who made the history, law and economics of media platforms fascinating in ways I never would have imagined. I am also pleased to see The University of Chicago (my alma mater) offering courses like these to the public at large. Now everyone has the chance to experience the "life of the mind" that I still remember with great fondness.

By Olga B

Jan 15, 2017

Engaging, inspirational, explanatory and accessible to everybody. Great e-learning course if you want to understand how Internet Giants operate on markets and within the borders of law.

A lot of copyright law is presented, but in an interesting and practical way. Economic focus is on business models and the idea of two-sided markets.

This course enabled me to understand the ideas behind big internet corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon etc. and raise overall awareness about Internet regulations.

I highly recommend this course! :)

By Fernando C

Oct 13, 2020

It was an excellent course. I congratulate Mr Picker and the University of Chicago for giving me the opportunity to take this course. It's unbelievable how this Internet Giants have come to the date and how much influence they have on our everyday lives. It's hard to compete with them in this big tech world, but let's hope in the near future and as this pandemic has changed a lot of business doing, we can see more and more of this type of companies which can bring more benefits globally. Again, thanks Mr Picker, hope to hear from you soon...

By Jeff B

Dec 14, 2016

I studied film production before digital took over, taught video production, went back to finish my degree after 30 years in the industry and decided on a B.A. in law with a film and tv minor. My University offered similar classes that focused on the history of Hollywood and Silicon Valley, but "Internet Giants" was the class that was missing.

This class will prepare you for the evolution of the media industry that will inevitably happen, take it from a guy who used to make movies before computers!

By Philip A

Oct 22, 2020

This was a fantastic course. Having studied Copyright Law and generalized IP Law while in law school, I can also comfortably say that this is a great supplement to those courses and really does a nice job expanding upon what you learn in those other courses. Easily digestible and clearly presented, I definitely recommend this course for the lay person and the law grad. It's definitely not a blow-off; you have to study and it's a lot of work, but well worth the time it takes to complete it.

By Robert D

Sep 8, 2015

Excellent, well-prepared and engaging lectures by an admirable and personable performer. Cogent and clear presentations, with links to original documents that are most assuredly worth taking a look at, if you are interested in the emergence of the "Internet Giants" (Google, Microsoft, etc.) and the ways in which their emergence interplays with the law (patent, copyright, interactions with the FTC and other regulatory agencies, legal frameworks that structure business in general). Superb.

By Pierre L P

Jan 21, 2021

Super overview of the law and economics of media platforms with an excellent teacher, narrator, and entertaining speaker. This course is as global as deep to understand History, literally, with personal comments and humour and a great professional attitude. I recommend this course for those who want to understand how simplex is our world and how Giants are conquering both the world and our attention, playing with legal limits and ethic. I'll come back to it later, again.

By Larry L E

Jan 8, 2017

Excellent. Instructor delivers in conversational tone and with many examples and excerpts. The recommended reading list, with links to most items, is worth the time spent on them. I have lived and worked in the tech world through the primary eras he discusses, 60's to today, and seeing the legal issues affecting the development and use of emerging technologies has been enlightening.

I would be interested in seeing this approach applied to matters of privacy and security.

By Andrea G

Jul 25, 2020

Great course!!! I think it is of great value that researchers and professors of this level share their knowledge in such an open way. I love to contribute to the development of this learning platform by just "buying" the course certificate. It's really a minor contribution compared to the value of the course, but I feel as it is my way to sustain this effort.

Professor Picker, it would be great to get the follow-up update course! :)

Thanks again!

Andrea Giacobbe

By David K

May 29, 2019

Truly great content taught by a truly great teacher. If you're interested in the intersection of law and technology, this course will provide you with foundational knowledge of the various topics at issue in the space. This includes antitrust, telecommunications, and intellectual property law. I'm glad I discovered the course and that I stuck with it till the very end. Thank you Randal Picker and all those involved in curriculum development and production!

By Jesse V

Feb 2, 2020

This was an excellent course! Mr. Picker was engaging and entertaining as well as a true subject matter expert. The course was challenging and absolutely required attention in order to pass. Lots of the topics are not comprehensively covered and found by Goolging-this course's cohesive structure provided a tremendous amount of relevant information on the topics covered. The workload of over 3 hours per week required dedication, but it was well worth it.

By Debayan B

Nov 14, 2020

I am very thankful to have received the opportunity to complete this wonderful course. Professor Picker manages to present the complicated issues and questions in a remarkably simple manner, and coming from a non-Economics background I can confidently say my knowledge of antitrust and competition law has been enriched and I've truly been provided a window from which to understand all these complex issues. My thanks to everyone who made this possible!


Mar 18, 2020

Hi Professor Randy,

This is Timothy from Kenya. I loved the course content and how it was delivered. The information was eye-opening and I learned a lot about how the American judicial system works. How the tech giants began and their various journies was enjoyable to listen to and learn from. Looking forward to more content from you. Thank you for taking the time to do this and I wish you well in all you do. God Bless you!!