May 2012

Michael Burstein on information exchange and IP law

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Michael Burstein, assistant professor of law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, discusses his paper entitled, Exchanging Information Without Intellectual Property. Burstein begins by discussing theories behind IP law and why it exists. According to Burstein, IP law incentivizes creation of intellectual works because it protects the creator’s investment by preventing others from copying the work and obtaining a benefit without any effort. He then goes on to discuss the critiques of these theories, the costs that are involved in protecting intellectual works, and the effect IP law has on innovation. Burstein then discusses practical examples in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry where actors structure the flow of information in a way that is reciprocal but only requires a small role from IP law. According to Burstein, norms protect intellectual works. He believes these norms allow disclosure of intellectual works in stages and facilitate a trusting relationship between two firms. Burstein ends the discussion by addressing policy conclusions surrounding IP law and what role it should play in information exchange.

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Jim Harper & Ryan Radia on cybersecurity legislation

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Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute, and Ryan Radia, associate director of technology studies at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, discuss Congress’s recent interest in cybersecurity. Harper and Radia begin by discussing why Congress wants to legislate cybersecurity and the potential threats that have Congress frightened. Harper and Radia then discuss the types of bills before Congress, which include aspects of information sharing that would promote cybersecurity intelligence but may have privacy implications, and mandates for a security infrastructure. The discussion then turns to the role of government in cybersecurity and whether the protection of online information and assets should be left to markets. The discussion ends with Harper and Radia predicting the future of the proposed bills.

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Jennifer Shkabatur on transparency reform

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Jennifer Shkabatur, Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet Society at Harvard University, discusses her new paper, “Transparency With(out) Accountability: The Effects of the Internet on the Administrative State. Shkabatur begins by discussing the focus of her paper, a critical look at open government initiatives. Shkabatur believes promises of transparency in government fall short and do not promote accountability. She then discusses innovations in accountability facilitated by the Internet, which she divides into three categories: mandatory transparency, discretionary transparency, and involuntary transparency. Shkabatur then sets forth types of reforms that she believes would improve government transparency. According to Shkabatur, context and details on agency processes are necessary along with details about how an agency performs various tasks.

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