Current Scholarship
New Symposium on “Networks, Platforms, and Utilities” by Ricks, Sitaraman, Welton, and Menand

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Symposium on Ricks, Sitaraman, Welton, and Menand’s “Networks, Platforms, and Utilities,” published by the Yale Journal on Regulation.

Check out the full symposium here, and how to purchase the casebook here

Morgan Ricks, Ganesh Sitaraman, Shelley Welton, and Lev Menand
From Handler’s Trade Regulation to Ricks, Sitaraman, Welton, and Menand’s Networks, Platforms, and Utilities
William J. Novak
On the Infrastructural Nature of NPUs
Brett M. Frischmann
An “Outsider’s” View of NPU Law and Policy
Wendy Wagner
“What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?” Dismantling Neoliberal Pieties One Foundational Sector at a Time
Yochai Benkler
What’s In a Name? Reimagining Networks, Platforms, and Utilities
Sharon Jacobs
NPU and the Long Interregnum
William Boyd
What Are Networks, Platforms, and Utilities and What Should We Do with Them?
Josh Macey and Genevieve Lakier
Money and Banking through the “Networks, Platforms, & Utilities” Lens: Preliminary Thoughts
Saule T. Omarova
The Political Economy of NPU Law
Amy Kapczynski
On “NPU-ness”
David Singh Grewal
Concluding Thoughts
Morgan Ricks, Ganesh Sitaraman, Shelley Welton, and Lev Menand

NPU law was not always a “missing” field of legal study. For many years, this field was known as “regulated industries.” Before that, it was called “the law of public utilities,” “the law of public service corporations,” and “the law of common carriers.” For generations, its centrality in American life was widely recognized. (Frankfurter taught the course at Harvard Law School for nineteen years.)

But for decades now it has all but ceased to exist as an integrated field of study. Significant intellectual and cultural shifts drove this change. In the closing third of the twentieth century, the long-prevailing view that the public interest demanded a substantial measure of public control over society’s infrastructural resources gave way to a bipartisan distrust of public administration and an abiding faith in the self-regulating power of markets. In the process, deregulatory initiatives “transformed” NPU law, and its animating concepts dropped out of the legal and political imagination.

We seek to revive that imagination among students, scholars, and policymakers. Networks, Platforms, and Utilities is the first entirely new casebook integrating NPU law in a quarter century—and the first with some temporal distance from the deregulatory movement of the late twentieth century. The book thus also contributes to larger intellectual shifts in the academy and public policy. Scholars and policymakers on both sides of the aisle have increasing been critical of the paradigm—whether framed as neoliberalism or law and economics—that shaped much of economic policymaking over the last generation. In response, significant shifts are underway in antitrust, trade, industrial policy, labor, and other areas. We believe that reanimating—and refashioning— “regulated industries” is a critical part of this broader shift in law and political economy. Our aim is to provide a modern, comprehensive volume that pushes the field back to the center of legal education and scholarship and reintroduces its tools and logic to policymakers.

In addition, Networks, Platforms, and Utilities is structured differently. Previous “regulated industries” casebooks were generally organized horizontally. That is to say, rather than focus on a particular type of network, platform, or utility and treat it comprehensively, these texts took one topic within NPU law and treated it across (selected) NPU sectors. For example, they might include a chapter on rate regulation, with cases drawn from disputes involving postal, electricity, and airline rates. By removing doctrine from context, however, they obscured how the law’s parts were in many cases designed to fit together as comprehensive governance systems.

Networks, Platforms, and Utilities is instead organized vertically. After foundational chapters on key concepts, the legal framework, administration, and the relationship between regulation and antitrust, subsequent chapters examine one sector at a time. We begin with communications systems, and then cover transportation and energy. Money and finance follow, with technology platforms rounding out the book.

Our sectoral approach is designed to allow readers to explore the underlying dynamics of each industry, the specific problems that emerged in it over time, and how legislators, regulators, and judges have addressed them. For each NPU vertical, readers can examine its legal past, explore its present problems, and imagine its possible futures. In the process, the book offers something like a liberal arts education in the structural foundations of American capitalism.

Morgan Ricks et al., “Introduction to the Symposium on Networks, Platforms, and Utilities: Law and Policy,” Yale Journal on Regulation (January 17, 2023),