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16. Internet Commerce

Trade regulation: an overview

The terms trade and commerce are often used interchangeably, with commerce referring to large-scale business activity and trade describing commercial traffic within a state or a community.  The U.S. Constitution, through the Commerce Clause, gives Congress exclusive power over trade activities between the states and with foreign countries.  Trade within a state is regulated exclusively by the states themselves.  As with any commercial activity, intrastate and interstate trade is often times indistinguishable.

Federal agencies that help in trade regulation include the Department of Commerce (DOC) and the International Trade Administration (ITA).  The DOC is an agency of the executive branch that promotes international trade, economic growth, and technological advancement. The ITA is a branch of the DOC that works to improve the international trade position of the United States.  For additional topics related to trade regulation please refer to commercial law.

Communications law: an overview

Communications law is concerned with the regulation of radio and TV broadcasting to insure satisfactory service and to prevent chaos. Because broadcasting by its nature transcends state boundaries, the Federal government has largely occupied the field.

Congress created and delegated its authority in communications to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC has the power (under 47 U.S.C. § 303), among other things, to set forth standards for transmitting color television.
Under the Communications Act of 1934, the FCC was given power to regulate and control "radio communications." Such communications were held to include the transmission by radio of writing, signs, signals, pictures, and sounds of all kinds.

What role is left for the states after such heavy federal regulation? States cannot regulate the content of the programs broadcast (even if the television station is situated within the state) and cannot require that motion pictures broadcast over the station be submitted to a state board of censors for their approval .

International trade law: an overview

International trade law is the mixture of domestic or national law and public international law that applies to transactions for goods or services that cross national boundaries. Certain multilateral treaties play an important roles in this field -- notably the Convention for the International Sales of Goods and several dealing with dispute resolution and the enforcement of resulting adjudications.

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