In this module you have learned about the basics of the antitrust law. Antitrust law is generally designed to protect a fair competitive marketplace. Compared to other areas of the law, antitrust situations are relatively rare. As a result the law is not as settled as other fields you have studied and, because every antitrust situation is very different, antitrust law is constantly evolving.
As you read in materials, the Sherman Act of 1890 is still the foundation of antitrust law. It generally prohibits, “restraints of trade,” and abuses of monopoly power. However, exactly when antitrust law should be used against a successful business venture remains a subject of debate.
Up until the 1970s, antitrust laws were applied against large business interests based upon structural factors like size and market domination out of a fear of concentrations of power (the Harvard School of antitrust law from your readings). More recently, many Courts and scholars have adopted an approach called the Chicago School. Rather than being concerned about the size of a business or market domination, the Chicago School focuses instead on consumer welfare and only applies antitrust powers when consumers are harmed.
However, the debate is ongoing and is renewed every generation as new companies dominate new markets. Many believe the next great antitrust debate will involve the “FAANGs.”
FAANG is an acronym referring to the stocks of the five most popular and best-performing American technology companies: Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Alphabet (formerly known as Google).
In addition to being widely known among consumers, the five FAANG stocks are among the largest companies in the world, with a combined market capitalization of over $4.1 trillion as of January 2020. For example, over the past decade Amazon has come to dominate online retailing by offering a massive selection of low-priced products delivered quickly.
Scholar Lina Khan recently ignited this debate with a controversial article in the Yale Law Journal in which she argued for a move back to older Harvard School approaches in addressing Amazon’s market dominance. Her article can be read here if you choose:
Article: Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox
Please read and consider the New York Times piece on the influence of her article:
Other sources you may want to look at in regard to Amazon’s growth and market dominance can be found here:
- When Does Amazon Become a Monopoly?
- What Makes a Monopoly in the Age of Amazon
- Is Amazon a Monopoly? Donald Trump Thinks So
For your responsive writing, please provide your thoughts as to if/when antitrust laws should be applied against any of the FANGS Company. In crafting your posts, you may want to address some or all of the following questions- Are any of them monopolies? Or just too powerful? Are these companies good or bad for America?
What if anything should courts consider in applying antitrust law? What are the risks of applying antitrust law to the FANGS or any other successful business? Which approach to antitrust law (between the Harvard and Chicago or any other school of thought)? In your response you should reference any personal experiences or thoughts you have with any of these companies.
You may also want to discuss if these companies should filter their content to screen out bad information. If so, who decides what information is bad and should be banned? Are these companies and the internet in general a public commons? Should their content be policed? If so, by whom? Is control of information something that should be treated like a monopoly? Why or why not?
Use your response to show what you know about antitrust law. Your response should be as long as you feel as necessary to adequately evaluate the issue most important to you that is related to the topic but a full credit response probably won’t be shorter than 2 pages, double spaced 12 pt. font.
This rubric will be used in grading your response:
|Demonstration of Knowledge of Antitrust Law||Little to no discussion or consideration of the course concepts
|Some discussion of main course concepts wider ramifications of the issue identified.
|Demonstrates mastery of course concepts
|Clearly States and Supports a Thesis
|Limited or no clear position or purpose
|Successfully states and supports a position
|Clearly articulates and supports a position, considers counterarguments
|Writing Style and Quality||Insufficient or Incomplete response