Palfrey on Cyberlaw & Digital Media

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Berkman Center’s Executive Director John Palfrey lectured earlier today at Cornell’s University Computer Policy and Law Program. In the first session, he made a strong case why, in fact, it makes sense to teach “cyberlaw” rather than the “law of the horse”. John started with an analysis of three contemporary legal and regulatory issues that are Internet-specific: Spam, the digital media crises, and VoIP. From there, he moved to a more abstract level and discussed some of the basic characteristics – phenomena such as large-scale infringements, uncertainty surrounding the applicability of traditional legal doctrines such as fair use, high costs of enforcement and coordination, and global reach of the medium, among others – which make the law of the Internet (at least in part) different from other areas of law. John also used variations on Lessig’s theme of the four modalities of regulation to illustrate what makes Internet law special.

In the second lecture, John Palfrey offered a thoughtful and comprehensive overview of the current digital media crisis. Starting with the Napster saga, he moved forward to the current state of affairs, discussing from a comparative law perspective, among other things, the Berkman Center’s iTunes case study and recent case law at the intersection of copyright and contract law as well as technological protection measures. Finally, John discussed possible scenarios for the future of digital media.

Both lectures provide a great opportunity to get an expert’s overview where cyberlaw stands and what some of today’s hottest topics are; highly recommended, also to the audience abroad. And even if you are a scholar working in the same field, you’ll enjoy Palfrey’s presentation, since it’s one of the increasingly rare occasions to re-think some of the fundamental assumptions and concepts of cyberlaw. Thanks, John!

1 Comment »

  1. paul reads ...

    September 30, 2008 @ 3:46 pm

    1

    4,931 Words Later: The iTunes Agreement (and incorporations by reference)…

    Aside from its length of 4,941 words, another problem is how often I am asked to assent to its terms — at every software update and periodically in between. This is of course redundant if their future terms clause, in which you “agree to agree”, ha…

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