Whose Net Is It, Anyway?

Web access is becoming a dicey issue for industry and regulators

About 100 years ago, the imaginative robber baron Jay Gould had a bright idea. He organized a handful of train companies in St. Louis, and together they gained control of the two railway bridges into town. This coalition then proceeded to squeeze huge fees out of every rival that wanted to use the bridges--until the Supreme Court put an end to the lucrative game in a famous 1912 case, U.S. vs. Terminal Railroad Assn. Deeming the bridges to be essential facilities for the local train industry, the high court forced Gould & Co. to open them up on an equal basis to everybody.

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