Presented at the 1st COMMUNIA Workshop on "Technology and the Public Domain," NEXA Center for Internet and Society, Politecnico di Torino, Italy, 18 January 2008. Since early in the 20th century, national governments have asserted sovereignty over the electromagnetic spectrum. These assertions were initially embraced as a way to control the monopolistic ambitions and offensive business practices of the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company. They are still the basis of radio regulation. However, as wireless communication moves to higher and higher frequencies - into the range of infrared (heat) and free space optics (light) - it is becoming obvious that claiming sovereignty over radio frequencies makes no more sense than claiming sovereignty over colors of the rainbow. Is radio legally different from light? If not, might we someday need government permission to use certain colors of light for certain purposes, as with the invisible colors of radio?
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