You are viewing a read-only archive of the Blogs.Harvard network. Learn more.

Monthly Archive for February, 2005

MGM v. Grokster — eon amicus

I am a law professor who founded the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School. I am committed to building cyberspace as well as to understanding and studying it. I am also an audioblogger , whose blog lights up as a link in a digital environment.

I speak on behalf of Fern, my spouse, an American historian. Historians value access to authentic searchable contemporaneous records of the past.

I speak on behalf of my son-in law, Wayne Marshall, who is an ethnomusicologist researching the roots of contemporary hip-hop music.


This case threatens to deny scholars access to essential materials in cyberspace. Digital libraries of non-infringing works cannot and will not be built while uncertainty in the law leaves them vulnerable to litigation for copyright infringement.


P2P solves a problem of the Net. Suppose you are a creator in the Net, with access to cyberspace through a tiny node. You create and blog a set of bits (text, audio, or video) which catches fire as a focus of mass global attention. What happens?

Bang! Your fuse blows. Your site is overwhelmed with hits. You have made your tiny node the target of a self-created DOS Attack. You are down — flow of your message terminated. See e.g., Tiny Takeoff on Christo Proves Gate-way to Glory, Boston Globe, February 25, 2005 (“After he posted photos on his website of his 13-gate installation made from stuff he picked up at Home Depot that he glued together and painted orange Hargadon [Hargo] received more than 4 million hits, so many that he had to take it down yesterday because his Internet service was charging him for every visit. He owes thousands, he says.”)

P2P can solve this problem. P2P enables a single node to spread its digits far and wide, without being overwhelmed. This is the substance of freedom of speech in cyberspace, a kind of first amendment of the Net. This is media democracy, every node capable of communication with every other.

When new communications technologies come in to mass hands, first uses often include porn and petty crime. So it has been with P2P. But with passage of time ordinary people learn to use the new capabilities. Blogspace is now exploding with expressive non-infringing creativity.

The Sony Principle establishes Law’s openness to the future. It calls for gauging the utility of new technology not merely as a function of current disruption of established interests but according to future uses not yet necessarily evolved. The question before the Court, at least in one form, is whether the protection of the Sony Principle should be qualified to require digital libraries to filter for copy-righted material.

Suppose the Berkman Center were to build a digital library — a data base into which creators around the globe are invited to deposit non-infringing creative works, text, audio and video. And suppose the Berkman Center were to facilitate distribution of any and all deposited works using p2p technology. The data base gives each item a permanent address; p2p allows near costless distribution.

What would be the liability of the Berkman Center as regards copyright infringement? Would the general counsel of Harvard approve such an undertaking? He will worry that copyrighted material will be deposited in the base, and that someone will download the copyrighted work from the base, thus risking liability for Harvard as a copyright infringer. He will veto the project unless he is reassured. Is an answer possible which would allay the general counsel’s fear sufficiently to lead him to approve?

If the entity housing the library is held legally responsible for filtering out all infringing material, and is liable for any failures of its filtering effort, then such libraries will never be built. Yet without such libraries the historians, ethnomusicologists and other scholars of the future will be disadvantaged, and the quality of our knowledge of our past compromised.

This Court should apply the Sony Principle to the case currently before the Court in a manner that makes clear that digital libraries designed for the purpose of storing and freely distributing non-infringing work are free of the threat of litigation for copyright infringement, even if some users deposit and others download infringing works.


For these reasons, the judgment of the Court of Appeals should be affirmed.

Respectfully submitted,


Openizing Standards

This from a conference on Open Standards . Hypo for Hassan

My Response

Future of Legal Education

I’ve been thinking about Rick Matasar’s vision of future for legal education. (3 min)

I share his vision with amendment. We are global, not national. Legally speaking, we are nothing but our brand, un-owned yet owned collectively.

eon becomes a blog in text as well as audio. I feel myself begin to relax into the medium. Metaphorically, I am sending you an email each day. Editor Myself my form, comfortable in audio, warming up to text, and to the two in combination. I want to post my email to Rick Matasar but worry that if one does business in the open, business may not get done, a worry that space in time is needed to think twice and confer before going public. Blogging seems to threaten collapse of positive latency to a current reality.


Jamaica Agenda

I explain the enterprise . (10 min 45 sec)

Path for Larry Summers

Message to My President (6 min 30 sec)

Jamaican Voices

Create a place in blog space for Jamaican Voices. (7 sec)

Build a node (60 sec)

anonymous lawyer

Just learned that what follows is fiction written by an HLS student. Feels real. Nails the point of view. Like to meet this person.

“I just got back from a meeting concerning whether to begin this year giving the summer associates Blackberries to use while they’re at the firm. I strongly believe we should. For starters, I want to hook them before they get comfortable working without one. Second, I want them to get used to being on call no matter where they are. Third, I think we can present it to the summers as a gift, and gain points on campus for it. In fact, I believe that if we were to send them the Blackberries now, in advance of the summer, word would spread at their schools that we were giving away lavish gifts, and 1Ls would remember our name and be more likely to interview with us next year. Clearly, blackberries are extraordinarily useful for associates to have (how else could I get someone to pick up my dry cleaning over the weekend?). “

Jamaica Voices

Jamaica Voices, to help light up a global explosion of creativity by modelling the process of listening to others enabled to express themselves in cyberspace, and of using the process to do meaningful research and construction on issues fundamental to constitution of the space.

Jamaica Voices will help convey a message to the United States Supreme Court. Give Teammates a node on the net filter through DCS on the way out, no net coming in exept through public media, radio stations like RootsFM. Model for Kevin the call in show, or for Rosimund to put it in other hands and let it go.


Trevor Rhone

Abdel Wright

Kevin Wallen

Rosamund Brown

Commissioner Reese

Rehabilitation Driector Gile Campbell

Camella Rhone

2 documentarians

Desmond Green

John Prescod

Dave Kusek

Schedule covering three days Feb 27-28-Mar 1

Sunday, Feb 27
Morning free for worship services
Afternoon Bus Tour of Cambridge and Boston
Evening orientation to project Jamaica Voices at Nesson home

Monday, Feb 28
Morning training workshops on blogging (text and audio) in a broadband environment and in prison (at Berkman Center)
Afternoon training workshops on use of information processing tools (at Berkman Center)
Evening dinner at Harvard Faculty Club

Tuesday, Mar 1
Morning visit to Berklee School of Music
Afternoon panels of Jamaica Voices (Ames Courtroom)
Evening Readings and Songs from Jamaican Voices (Adams House Pool Theater)

Workshops and panels led by Berkman Faculty and Fellows

Berkman Center pays for travel, accommodations, some meals
Guests are staying at the Friendly Inn

Trust Study in Jamaican Prisons

Just posted to John Clippinger and the Wisefolk he assembled to work on Social Physics:

I propose a research project on trust formation. This seems to the close to the core of Clip’s thesis. Would anyone be willing to help organize such a study, focused on inmates in Jamaica’s prisons? Consider a new inmate entering the General Penetentiary in Kingston Jamaica for the first time. Who does he trustat the start? How are bonds of trust established and maintained? I believe we would have full cooperation from inmates and from Jamaica’s Department of Corrections to do such a study, including opportunity for inmates to express the relationship between trust and knowledge/product-formation in digital media.

Valentine for David and Rebecca

Dave Weinberger’s Sonnet red by eon, his love poem to Rebecca