Information Law Institute

Fall 2010 Colloquium


Monday, September 20, 2010 4:00 – 5:30 PM
Speaker:    James Grimmelmann, Associate Professor, New York Law School
Title:  A Bridge Too Far? The Google Books Settlement and the Limits of Class-Action Law

Room 210, 245 Sullivan Street

Abstract: The proposed Google Books settlement is literally unprecedented: no previous class action has ever attempted anything like it.  If approved, the settlement would authorize Google to sell digital copies of millions of out-of-print books unless their individual copyright owners step forward and object.  This innovative use of class-action law would cut through the Gordian knot of uncertainty keeping many of these books unavailable, but it would also concentrate economic and cultural power in Google's hands.  In this talk, I will identify the unique aspects of the proposed settlement, explain how they go beyond previous class-action practice, and ask whether this extension is a good idea.

James Grimmelmann is Associate Professor at New York Law School and a member of its Institute for Information Law and Policy. He received his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was Editor-in-Chief of LawMeme and a member of the Yale Law Journal. Prior to law school, he received an A.B. in computer science from Harvard College and worked as a programmer forMicrosoft. He has served as a Resident Fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale, as a legal intern for Creative Commons and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and as a law clerk to the Honorable Maryanne Trump Barry of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. 


Friday, October 15, 2010 12:00 – 1:30 PM
Speaker : Tina Piper, Assistant Professor of Law and Research Director, Centre for Intellectual Property Policy, McGill University
Title : Copyright as Terroir
Location : Room 210, 245 Sullivan Street

Abstract: As music, through its performers and listeners, increasingly moves to the internet for aspects of its production, advertising and distribution, the role and importance of copyright protection increases. Or does it? I will present research from the past two years that considers the role of music labels in the successful Montreal independent music scene that interrogates this conclusion. I treat these labels as brokers-on-the-boundary between artists, fans and the industry of music, much like technology transfer offices that bridge academic and industrial scientific cultures in the life sciences sector. My core claim is that as copyright grows to represent more abstract commodities (in this case, music), paradoxically the geographical, tangible and particular aspects of its creation become more significant. I use the metaphor of terroir to denote the special characteristics that geography has bestowed upon identifiable varieties of copyright, rather than framing copyright as a generic, homogeneous intellectual property right. I will use the concept of terroir to explain, among other topics arising from this research, how national public subsidy transforms artists' relationships to copyright and the challenges to open licensing regimes like Creative Commons in light of this conclusion.

Tina Piper is a law professor and Research Director of McGill’s Centre for Intellectual Property Policy. Before joining McGill University, Tina clerked for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and completed her doctorate at the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. Tina's research focuses on the history of intellectual property law (particularly medical patenting) and musicians' copyright practices. Her research has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Networks of Centres of Excellence and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. She has worked extensively with community organizations including as project lead of Creative Commons Canada and as a Board Member of PopMontreal. She teaches Intellectual Property Law, Property Law, Canadian Legal History and an inter-disciplinary course (with Law, Music, Management, Computer Science, Communication Studies and Information Studies) on new models for music creation and distribution.


Friday, December 3, 2010 12:00 – 1:30 PM
Speaker : Danah Boyd, Senior Researcher, Microsoft Research; Research Associate, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University
Title : Living Life in Public: How American Teens Navigate Privacy and Publicity through Social Media
Location : Room 210, 245 Sullivan Street

Abstract: Many argue that teens today don't care about privacy. This myth has become so pervasive that technology companies believe that they no longer need to think about the social implications of making teens' content public. Yet, teens care deeply about privacy.  For teens, privacy is not in opposition to publicity. In choosing how to engage in public social media sites, teens are navigating a complex environment where interactions are public-by-default, private-through-effort.  The choices that teens make reveal what is gained and what is lost because of mediated publics.  This talk will leverage ethnographic work concerning teens' social media practices to explore privacy and publicity.

Danah Boyd is a senior researcher at Microsoft Research and a research associate at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. In her research, Danah examines everyday practices involving social media, with specific attention to youth engagement. Lately, she has been focused on issues related to privacy, publicity, and visibility. She recently co-authored Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media. She is currently co-directing the Youth and Media Policy Working Group, funded by the MacArthur Foundation. She blogs at and tweets at @zephoria.