Spencer on The First Amendment and the Regulation of Speech Intermediaries

Shaun B. Spencer (University of Massachusetts School of Law – Dartmouth) has posted “The First Amendment and the Regulation of Speech Intermediaries” (Marquette Law Review, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Calls to regulate social media platforms abound on both sides of the political spectrum. Some want to prevent platforms from deplatforming users or moderating content, while others want them to deplatform more users and moderate more content. Both types of regulation will draw First Amendment challenges. As Justices Thomas and Alito have observed, applying settled First Amendment doctrine to emerging regulation of social media platforms presents significant analytical challenges.

This Article aims to alleviate at least some of those challenges by isolating the role of the speech intermediary in First Amendment jurisprudence. Speech intermediaries complicate the analysis because they introduce speech interests that may conflict with the traditional speaker and listener interests that First Amendment doctrine evolved to protect. Clarifying the under-examined role of the speech intermediary can help inform the application of existing doctrine in the digital age. The goal of this Article is to articulate a taxonomy of speech intermediary functions that will help courts (1) focus on which intermediary functions are implicated by a given regulation and (2) evaluate how the mix of speaker, listener, and intermediary interests should affect whether that regulation survives a First Amendment challenge.

This Article proceeds as follows. First, it provides a taxonomy of the speech intermediary functions—conduit, curator, commentator, and collaborator—and identifies for each function the potential conflict or alignment between the intermediary’s speech interest and the speech interests of the speakers and listeners the intermediary serves. Next, it maps past First Amendment cases onto the taxonomy and describes how each intermediary’s function influenced the application of First Amendment doctrine. Finally, it illustrates how the taxonomy can help analyze First Amendment challenges to emerging regulation of contemporary speech intermediaries.


Low & Hara on Cryptoassets and Property

Kelvin F.K. Low (National University of Singapore – Faculty of Law) and Megumi Hara (Chuo University Law School) have posted “Cryptoassets and Property” (Sjef van Erp & Katja Zimmermann (eds), Edward Elgar Research Handbook on EU Property Law (Forthcoming)) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

The concept of property has always been, and remains, a vexed notion. Within civilian systems, the difficulty of incorporating the basic idea of ownership – surely fundamental to any idea of property – within the Gaian and other schema demonstrates the elusiveness of property. Its elusiveness lies in part in the intersection of various distinct ideas within the law of property. In civilian schema, these distinct ideas are often distinguished by discrete vocabulary. For example, a modern French schema distinguishes between biens (assets), choses (things), and droits (rights). Within common law systems, the comparative lack of attention to classification, and relative paucity in vocabulary for discrete concepts has led to much confusion. With this background in mind, it is perhaps unsurprising to find that cryptoassets have been more readily accommodated within common law systems’ vague notions of property than those of civilian systems. Within the civil law, Francophone systems, with looser conceptions of chose than Germanic Pandectist systems’ strict conceptions of Sach (thing), are more accommodating of cryptoassets as property but even so, it may more accurately be said that they are biens or droits. Accordingly, depending on one’s conception of property, cryptoassets may (or may not) be property.