Clinics

Technology Law and Policy Clinic

LW.12148 / LW.12149
Professor Jason Schultz
Professor Catherine Crump
Open to 2L  and 3L students
Maximum of 10 students
Fall semester
6 credits*
Pre-requisites/Co-requisites: None, but courses in privacy, intellectual property, or First and Fourth Amendment law will prove useful. 

Introduction

With technological advances driving greater social, economic, and political change—from access to information, health care, and entertainment to impacts on the environment, education, and commerce to facilitating greater surveillance by law enforcement agencies—issues related to privacy, consumer rights, free speech, and intellectual property are becoming increasingly critical and complex.

The Technology Law & Policy Clinic is a semester-long, 6-credit course that focuses on the representation of individuals, nonprofits, and consumer groups who are engaged with these questions from a public interest point-of-view. It involves a mixture of fieldwork and seminar discussion ranging from technology law and policy to the ethical challenges of representing public interest organizations.

Course Description

Fieldwork

Approximately one-third of the students in the clinic will work with the teachers of the clinic and the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy & Technology Project on issues or cases currently on the Project’s docket. Representative matters include:

  • Challenging suspicionless searches of laptops at the international border. The ACLU has been involved in two lawsuits, House v. Napolitano and Abidor v. Napolitano, arguing that the government’s policy of conducting purely suspicionless searches and seizures of laptops and other electronic devices of travelers at the international border violates both the First Amendment right to free speech and the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.
  • Filing public records lawsuits to inform the public about government surveillance programs. For example, the ACLU has litigated Freedom of Information Act requests to force the disclosure of records regarding the warrantless tracking of the location of people’s cell phones.
  • Challenging unconstitutional Internet filtering. The ACLU has been involved in a challenge to a library system’s refusal to disable its Internet filters to allow adults patrons to engage in uncensored sessions of reading and research, and has also challenged public high school filtering policies that block access to pro-gay speech while allowing access to websites that condemn homosexuality.

The other two-thirds will work with Prof. Schultz in representing clients on additional public interest issues primarily focused on intellectual property topics. Past representative matters include:

  • Filing briefs in important copyright cases such as Viacom v. YouTube (arguing that overzealous enforcement of copyright will censor independent and experimental video artists), Authors Guide v. Google (arguing that courts should protect the privacy of online book readers), UMG v. Augusto (arguing in favor of consumers’ rights to resell CDs on eBay), Eldred v. Ashcroft (arguing for First Amendment limits on the term of copyright protection), and Coupons, Inc. v. Stottlemire (arguing that the First Amendment protects posting information online concerning computer security issues).
  • Counseling open source software, open science, and DIY makers to develop appropriate licensing mechanisms that allow for creative and scientific advances to remain publicly and globally available for research and educational use.
  • Filing patent oppositions on behalf of non-profit and public health groups to stop pharmaceutical companies from artificially inflating the price of life saving HIV drugs in poor countries.
  • Filing comments and testifying before the U.S. Copyright Office in favor of exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to allow for non-commercial remixing of DVD content and “jailbreaking” of smart phones, tablets, e-book readers, and videogame consoles in order to facilitate scientific research, competition, and access to amateur “homebrew” computer programs. 

Seminar

The seminar will include readings and discussions, student presentations of projects for discussion and problem-solving workshops, guest speakers on relevant topics, and other exercises designed to expose you to the practice of technology law in the public interest.

Qualifications for Applicants

Students in the clinic should have a passionate interest or curiosity about the impact of new technologies on public policy and the law and a desire to support and represent the public interest in these matters.

Application Procedure

Students should submit an application, resume and transcript on-line via CAMS. Applicants should submit as lengthy a response to Question 4 of the standard application as they feel necessary and may ignore the 300 word limit. Applicants to this clinic are asked to answer two additional questions to complete their applications, available on the Forms page and in CAMS. There will be no interview. If you have questions about the clinic, you may direct them either to Susan Hodges or to Jason Schultz.

Student Contacts

The following students took the clinic in Spring 2014:

Megan Briskman    
Matt Callahan    
Philip Cernera    
Ilyssa Coghlan    
Amanda Levendowski
Rafael Reyneri    
Aimee Thomson    
Peter Van Valkenburgh


* 6 credits include 3 clinical credits and 3 academic seminar credits.