Questions of Intellectual Property and Fundamental Values in the Digital Age

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Today’s intellectual property debates, in both law and the larger society, are a bellwether of changing justice needs in the twenty-first century. As the digital age democratizes technological opportunities, it brings intellectual property law into mainstream everyday culture. This generates debates about the relationship between the constitutional interest in “the progress of science and useful arts” and other fundamental values, such as equality, privacy, and distributive justice. These values, which were not part of intellectual property regimes in prior eras, are especially challenged in today’s internet world. The lecture explains how intellectual property law, originally envisioned as a regime to enable markets in intellectual goods, is becoming a framework through which to discuss essential sociopolitical issues. The result is to refigure the substance of “progress” in terms demonstrating the urgent relationship of art and science with social justice today.

Presenter Bio

Jessica Silbey is professor of law and Yanakakis Faculty Research Scholar at Boston University. Her publications include The Eureka Myth: Creators, Innovators and Everyday Intellectual Property (Stanford University Press 2015). Before entering teaching, she served as a law clerk for Judge Robert E. Keeton (D. Mass.) and Judge Levin H. Campbell (1st Cir.) and practiced law at Foley Hoag in Boston. Professor Silbey received a J.D. and a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of Michigan and an A.B. from Stanford University.