Cultural Environmentalism at 10

The Stanford Center for Internet and Society is hosting a conference, “Cultural Environmentalism at 10,” on March 10/11 to reflect upon the decade since the publication of Jamie Boyle’s fantastic book, Shamans, Software, and Spleens. While the topic of Jamie’s book (IP policy) is something IP scholars had been talking about for ever, Jamie’s book was one of the best to introduce these issues to a community beyond law scholars. (I first heard about the book at lunch a decade ago when Harvard’s provost told me it was “one of the most important law books I had ever read.”). The book, and the articles that followed it, gave birth to what we should call the “cultural environmentalism” movement — the movement to think about IP policy as environmentalists think about pollution policy.

We designed this conference a bit differently from others. I asked a bunch of IP professors to give me their list of the top “young” IP scholars. I tabulated the votes, and asked the top four to write papers. They agreed. Their papers will be commented upon by leading IP scholars. Here’s the list of presenters and commentators.

Here’s the Center’s announcement. If you can make it, be sure to reserve. There are already a large number who have RSVPd, so act soon.

Cultural Environmentalism at 10
March 11-12, 2006
Center for Internet and Society, Stanford Law School

Ten years ago, Duke Law Professor Jamie Boyle suggested that the history of the environmental movement offered powerful theoretical and practical lessons to those who sought to recognize the importance of the public domain, and to expose the harms caused by a relentlessly maximalist program of intellectual property expansion.

On March 11-12, 2006, Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society will host a symposium to explore the development and expansion of the metaphor of “cultural environmentalism” over the course of ten busy years for intellectual property law. We’ve invited four scholars to present original papers on the topic, and a dozen intellectual property experts to comment and expand on their works.

Molly Van Houweling explores voluntary manipulation of intellectual property rights as a tool for cultural environmentalism. Susan Crawford extends Boyle’s analysis to the age of networks. Rebecca Tushnet, looks at the ways in which the law’s impulse to generalize complicates the project of cultural environmentalism, and Madhavi Sunder looks at how the metaphor affects traditional knowledge. Professor Boyle will also offer some remarks, as will Stanford Law School’s Professor Lawrence Lessig.

The event is free, but registration is required. We look forward to seeing you.

This entry was posted in good code. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Cultural Environmentalism at 10

  1. Would it be possible to get podcasts of the talks for those of us who can’t come in person? Very much obliged.

  2. poptones says:

    Environmentalism is a fantastic analogy. Perhaps it will finally drive home to the people who attach themselves to this “free” movement because they think it means protecting their “right” to rip madonna cds and remix and republish anything, anywhere, anytime it pleases them their responsibility to culture by not, in fact, aiding those who pollute our culture with works which they do not wish to be fairly used.

    If you want to protect this “environment” then stop buying your downloads at itunes and stop surfing newsgroups and kazaa and limewire and start rewarding the artists who publish responsibly.

  3. three blind mice says:

    the history of the environmental movement offered powerful theoretical and practical lessons to those who sought to recognize the importance of the public domain, and to expose the harms caused by a relentlessly maximalist program of intellectual property expansion.

    the environmental analogy is unfortunately all too accurate.

    concern for the public domain and for civil rights is, like the concern for the environment, a legitimate public interest. unfortunately, concern for “the commons” appears to attract many of the same political and economic ideologies that populate the environmental movement. it is no surprise that the green party is one of the most vocal opponents of intellectual property laws in the european parliament.

    as an object of analysis, comparisons to the environmental movement may be useful. as an example of practice, let us hope that the commons-ists have better sense than to follow the moribund and uninnovative politics of the environmental movement.

  4. poptones says:

    That concern is not entirely without merit, mice. Unlike copyright, software patent laws do in fact present a tremendous danger – not only to the commons, but to innovation in every area legitimate online commerce. When every idea has become subject to the control of multinationals and those who own the channels of communications it will effectively stagnate innovation and stalwart any developer not attached to the ruling elite.

    The grey market will always exist, but when you are effectively subject to repossession of your “property” the instant you attain a level of success sufficient to draw the attention of those who own exclusive license to virtually every embodiment of ideas in this realm, there’s not much reward for seeking legitimacy. In this manner, software patents quite literally encourage social subterfuge and criminality.

  5. We will be podcasting the event. The podcasts will be available on the CIS website by the end of March.

  6. three blind mice says:

    Thank you Lauren Gelman. The podcasts will be much appreciated by those of us unable to attend – it’s always nice to have legal content for the MP3 player.

  7. Sal says:

    for those of us struggling to find a bridge across the digital divide (ie. no iPod) – could you also please just post copies of the papers

    many thanks

Leave a Reply