Radio Berkman 236: Star Wars vs Copyright

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“George Lucas built a whole new industry with Star Wars.” says Peter S. Menell, devoted science fiction fan and a professor at the UC Berkeley School of Law, who studies copyright and intellectual property law. “But what funds that remarkable company is their ways of using copyright.”

And he’s right. A third of the profits LucasFilm pulls in from Star Wars has come from merchandising alone. Not ticket sales, not DVDs, not video games or books. Toys, clothes, and weird tie-ins like tauntaun sleeping bags and wookie hair conditioner.

But fans of Star Wars, and other stratospherically profitable creative universes, increasingly like to become creators within those universes. They write books, they make costumes, they direct spinoffs and upload them to YouTube.

And sometimes they make money.

How does law come into play when fans start to reinterpret intellectual property? We sat down with Menell to see where the tensions lie between the law, the courts, and the George Lucases of the world.

Reference Section

Creative Commons music used in this episode:
David Szesztay “Morning One”
Broke For Free “Something Elated”

Image courtesy of Flickr user: kalexanderson

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Susan Crawford on Why the Right Digital Decisions Will Make America Strong

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The U.S. still lags behind much of the developed world in terms of the speed and density of its internet infrastructure. In the 21st Century this disparity in access to high speed internet could stand as a critical challenge to competitiveness in many areas, from industry and commerce, to healthcare and education, to civic life and culture.

In this conversation, Susan Crawford — John A. Reilly Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and a co-director of the Berkman Center — discusses the potential futures we face as we consider how to invest in the wires that bring us our internet.

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Susan Crawford on Why the Right Digital Decisions Will Make America Strong [AUDIO]

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The U.S. still lags behind much of the developed world in terms of the speed and density of its internet infrastructure. In the 21st Century this disparity in access to high speed internet could stand as a critical challenge to competitiveness in many areas, from industry and commerce, to healthcare and education, to civic life and culture.

In this conversation, Susan Crawford — John A. Reilly Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and a co-director of the Berkman Center — discusses the potential futures we face as we consider how to invest in the wires that bring us our internet.

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Jon Penney on “Chilling Effects”: Insights on How Laws and Surveillance Impact People Online

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With Internet censorship and mass surveillance on the rise globally, understanding regulatory “chilling effects” — the idea that laws, regulations, or state surveillance can deter people from exercising their freedoms or engaging in entirely legal activities — has thus today, in our Post-Snowden world, taken on greater urgency and public importance.

In this talk, Jon Penney — doctoral candidate at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford (Balliol College), and a research fellow at the Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto — fills in some of the gaps in our understanding of chilling effects online. Through discussion of three empirical legal case studies — one on surveillance-related chilling effects and Wikipedia, a second on the impact of the DMCA’s copyright enforcement scheme, and a third survey-based study on “chilling effect scenarios” — Jon offers insights into the nature and scale of regulatory chilling effects online.

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More on this event here

Jon Penney on “Chilling Effects”: Insights on How Laws and Surveillance Impact People Online [AUDIO]

0

With Internet censorship and mass surveillance on the rise globally, understanding regulatory “chilling effects” — the idea that laws, regulations, or state surveillance can deter people from exercising their freedoms or engaging in entirely legal activities — has thus today, in our Post-Snowden world, taken on greater urgency and public importance.

In this talk, Jon Penney — doctoral candidate at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford (Balliol College), and a research fellow at the Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto — fills in some of the gaps in our understanding of chilling effects online. Through discussion of three empirical legal case studies — one on surveillance-related chilling effects and Wikipedia, a second on the impact of the DMCA’s copyright enforcement scheme, and a third survey-based study on “chilling effect scenarios” — Jon offers insights into the nature and scale of regulatory chilling effects online.

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Alan Weinberger on Three Decades of IT Channel Evolution and the Continued Importance of Small IT Companies [AUDIO]

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In this talk, Alan Weinberger — founder of The ASCII Group, Inc. and Harvard Law School alum — addresses the development of the information technology marketplace over the past three decades and the continued importance of small IT companies.

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…or download the OGG audio format!

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Peter S. Menell: Copyright Law Year in Review [AUDIO]

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What ties together cheerleader outfits, monkey selfies, the Batmobile, a chicken sandwich, Yoga, and Yoda? In this talk, Professor Peter S. Menell — Koret Professor of Law at UC Berkeley School of Law and a Director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology — provides an exhilarating copyright year in review.

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