IP, technology, human rights

Archive for the ‘law and technology’ Category

Illuminating Innovation

Posted by Lea on July 28, 2011

This week I presented Illuminating Innovation at the Southeastern Association of Law Schools conference. This work in progress uses Thomas Edison’s lightbulb as a case study to “shed light” on how patents impact innovation.

This twenty-minute recording offers a glimpse of the project, through the lens of Mark Lemley’s patent racing theory:

Illuminating Innovation – SEALS

An abstract is also available at SSRN, http://ssrn.com/abstract=1658643, to be followed by a public draft in due course.

This is my first year attending the SEALS conference, and I’m completely sold on coming back next year. I’ve seen a number of great panels, but what really stands out in my mind is the feel of the conference… informal, accessible, and welcoming.

They also have a truly outstanding system not just for helping brand new scholars navigate the conference, but for really catering to our needs. They reserve speaking spots for the newbies, host a special lunch, and assign you a mentor… I got very lucky in being matched with Dennis Cargill.

I also appreciated that there has been a substantial set of programming around teaching. Last summer I attended the AALS Workshop for New Law Teachers in Washington D.C., which was fantastic. But I feel like I’m getting a second wave of good new ideas here, which is great.

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New light from an old source

Posted by Lea on July 20, 2010

I’m working now on a new project, which takes the historic litigation around the light bulb as an entry point to shed new light on the impact of patents upon innovation and access to new technologies.

Image of four light bulbs, in Pop Art style

Thanks to Zetson for the CC-licensed image, via Flickr

More than a century after its introduction, the light bulb remains the defining icon of invention.

Justifiably so, in my opinion, because this widget almost single-handedly drove the demand for electrification.

The light bulb was the “killer app” for electric power, which in turn brought about a new era of technological innovation.

Contrary to popular wisdom, however, Edison’s team was merely one of dozens that co-invented electric light bulb.

Scientifically speaking, his team’s discoveries were neither the first, nor the most important.

What Edison did better than all the other inventors took place not in the laboratory, but in the law office.

His lawyers pursued, obtained, asserted, and litigated key patents on light bulb technology in order to run competing bulb manufacturers out of business or buy them up.

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Open Video Conference

Posted by Lea on June 20, 2009

Xeni Jardin -- BoingBoing TV by Roy Blumenthal, part of the Open Video Conference series, Creative Commons licensed

"Xeni Jardin -- BoingBoing TV" from Roy Blumenthal's Open Video Conference series, Creative Commons licensed

The Open Video Conference, co-organized by the Yale ISP, has been an exciting two days.

Registration topped 800, and I have it from a reliable source that 4000 people watched remotely. My own contribution to the conference was a presentation as part of a panel entitled “Human Rights and Indigenous Video: Dilemmas, Challenges and Opportunities.

I drew on examples from the recent protests in Iran to demonstrate how Internet video can be a powerful tool for promoting human rights, and why open video is particularly important to realizing this potential.

Video footage of our workshop is now available here. My presentation runs from 2:15 to 8:50. My slides are also available at the ISP’s blog. Below, a partial transcript.

This talk focused mostly on how open video can help people defend their human rights. But I’ve also written about how open video more directly supports the right to take part in cultural life in this short thought piece.

Open Video and Human Rights, by Lea Shaver

Presentation to the Open Video Conference, New York City, 19 June 2009

The big news story this week are the mass protests in Iran, where a dissatisfied public demands accountability for what appears to be massive election fraud.

Digital technologies have played a crucial role in the popular mobilization, as user-generated media circumvents the official censorship.

Here, the BBC’s website features extensive, detailed videos recorded by ordinary Iranian citizens from their cell phones.

It used to be that big media institutions made the news, and then the bloggers commented on it. Now those roles have been reversed.

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