Day 2: Copyright | Samantha Bates | December 09, 2016

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Day 2: Copyright

by Samantha Bates Show/Hide

Copyright was once thought of as the defining battle of consumer networking. Academic technologies brought into the mainstream made it trivial to prepare and distribute perfect copies of copyrighted work without permission — and the comparatively powerful organizations representing copyright holders saw this as an existential threat.

We will read some of the “grim joy” experienced by Internet freedom types in dancing on the grave of copyright in the mid-1990s — and immerse in some of the law and policy changes effected in the United States to deal with the problem without running up against the equities of rapidly-growing intermediaries of online and Internet service providers (turns out, there’s a difference).

The copyright wars revealed a variety of strategies that we’ll look at with the benefit of years of hindsight, including lawsuits against network providers, software makers, and individual users both sending and receiving files, as well as technical changes designed to make it more difficult to share items that wish not to be shared. Ultimately we are drawn to the question of whether the wars were won by one side or another, or whether it’s more accurate to say that they simply faded away. What issues today feel make-or-break, yet could simply fade rather than be resolved, and why?

We’ll end the day with a peek into, and practice of, a current intense if obscure debate: that of whether digital rights management hooks should be placed into standards for Web browsers.

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December 31, 2016

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Samantha Bates

Research Associate

Harvard Law School, Berkman Center

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