April 2009

April 30th, 2009

Event: WIPO Committee on Development and Intellectual Property: UNCTAD/ICTSD Side-event on the WIPO Development Agenda and the Public Domain
Date: 30 April 2009
Location: Geneva, WIPO Room B, chemin des Colombettes 34
Description: Responding to the call from WIPO Member States for intensified cooperation between WIPO and UNCTAD on intellectual property (IP)-related issues, UNCTAD and the International Centre on Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) are organizing a side-event at the upcoming meeting of the WIPO Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP).

The objective is to provide delegates with an opportunity to discuss the concept of the “public domain“, in preparation for their debate on the implementation of recommendations no. 16 and 20 of the WIPO Development Agenda.

Main speakers at this event:

  • Mr. James Boyle, William Neal Reynolds Professor of Law, Duke University School of Law.
  • Ms. Uma Suthersanen, Lecturer in IP, School of Law, Queen Mary, University of London.
Recommendations of the WIPO Development Agenda

  1. Consider the preservation of the public domain within WIPO´s normative processes and deepen the analysis of the implications and benefits of a rich and accessible public domain.
  2. To promote norm-setting activities related to IP that support a robust public domain in WIPO´s Member States, including the possibility of preparing guidelines which could assist interested Member States in identifying subject matters that have fallen into the public domain within their respective jurisdictions.
Co-organized with: International Centre on Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD)

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) [tbc]
Sponsor / funding: Department for International Development (DFID), UK
Language(s): English
Related sites: Development Dimensions of Intellectual Property Rights

March 2009

March 21st, 2009

No Law: Intellectual Property in the Image of an Absolute First Amendment

No LawMarch 21, 2009
9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Room 4047, Duke Law School


What part of “No Law” don’t you understand? That is the question that David Lange and H. Jefferson Powell pose in their provocative new book No Law: Intellectual Property in the Image of an Absolute First Amendment (Stanford University Press 2008). In honor of the book’s publication, CSPD presents a conference that will explore the intriguing intersection of intellectual property and freedom of expression. What would it mean for intellectual property if we took the First Amendment seriously? This event will bring together some of the leading scholars in the country to address this question, and debate the role of copyright and free speech in the marketplace of ideas and the construction of a collective culture. Panelists will include Professor Neil Netanel from the UCLA School of Law, Professor Garrett Epps from the University of Baltimore School of Law, Professor Keith Aoki from the UC Davis School of Law, Duke Law Professors James Boyle, David Lange, H. Jefferson Powell, Jerome Reichman, and Neil Siegel, and CSPD Director Jennifer Jenkins.

The event is free and open to all, but it is suggested that you register to guarantee a seat by sending an email to Balfour Smith at


9:30 a.m.-9:55 a.m. Registration and continental breakfast

9:55 a.m.-10:00 a.m. Welcome and Introduction
Jennifer Jenkins

Director, Center for the Study of the Public Domain
Duke Law School


10:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m. Keynote Address
Neil Netanel
Professor of Law
UCLA School of Law

10:30 a.m.-10:45 a.m. Commentary
Neil S. Siegel
Associate Professor of Law and Political Science
Duke Law School

10:45 a.m.-11:00 a.m. Discussion


11:15 a.m.-11:45 a.m. Keynote Address
James Boyle

William Neal Reynolds Professor of Law
Duke Law School

11:45 a.m.-12:00 noon Commentary
Jerome H. Reichman

Bunyan S. Womble Professor of Law
Duke Law School

12:00 noon-12:15 p.m. Discussion



1:30 p.m.-2:00 p.m. Keynote Address
Garrett Epps

Professor of Law
University of Baltimore School of Law

2:00 p.m.-2:15 p.m. Commentary
Keith Aoki

Professor of Law
UC Davis School of Law

2:15 p.m.-2:30 p.m. Discussion


2:45 p.m.-3:05 p.m. Author’s Response
David Lange

Melvin G. Shimm Professor of Law
Duke Law School

3:05 p.m.-3:25 p.m. Author’s Response
H. Jefferson Powell

Frederic Cleaveland Professor of Law and Divinity
Duke Law School

3:25 p.m.-3:40 p.m. Commentary
Jennifer Jenkins

Director, Center for the Study of the Public Domain
Duke Law School

3:40 p.m.-4:00 p.m. Discussion


10th March, 2009 London

RSA Lecture.  “The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind” 6pm March 10 Register
8 John Adam Street
London, WC2N 6EZ, United Kingdom
+44 20 7930 5115

12 March, 2009, Cambridge

First Arcadia Lecture

Where:Lee Hall, Wolfson College, Cambridge University
Thursday 12 March 2009, 6pm-7:15pm

January 2009

The Opposite(s) of Property The Opposite(s) of Property

an interdisciplinary investigation
of property and its borders

January 17, 2009
Duke Law School

(click on a session to view the webcast or on a name for information on the speaker)


James Boyle and Jennifer Jenkins

Ringing Up Baby: Gender, Property and Price Fixing in the Market for Reproductive Services

Kimberly Krawiec
Professor of Law, University of North Carolina Law School

Commentary: Arti Rai
Elvin R. Latty Professor of Law, Duke Law School

Slavery: Beyond the Pure Property Paradigm

Adrienne Davis
William M. Van Cleve Professor of Law, Washington University Law School

Commentary: Jedediah Purdy
Associate Professor of Law, Duke Law School

Property, Commons, and Cooperative Human Systems Design

Yochai Benkler
Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies, Harvard Law School

Commentary: Jerome Reichman
Bunyan S. Womble Professor of Law, Duke Law School

The Original Public Domain

Jedediah Purdy
Professor of Law, Duke Law School

Commentary: David Lange
Melvin G. Shimm Professor of Law, Duke Law School

Hohfeld in the Underworld

James Boyle
William Neal Reynolds Professor of Law, Duke Law School

Commentary: Jennifer Jenkins
Director, Center for the Study of the Public Domain, Duke Law School

Common Threads and Differences
(Plenary Panel)

December 2008

December 18th, 2008, from 9pm – 2am at 111 Minna Gallery (111 Minna Street, San Francisco)

Creative Commons Turns Six Years Old!

I’ll be joining the uber-cool folk at CC HQ for this celebration.  I am chipping in free CC licensed comic books for the first 50 guests.  Hope to see you there.  If you can’t make it, you can always see if there is another CC birthday party nearer you.

Creative Commons was born December 2002, and to celebrate we’re inviting the CC Community worldwide to join the party!

To celebrate six exceptional years for CC and the December 31st wrap-up of our 2008 fundraising campaign, CC headquarters is hosting a birthday bash in San Francisco! The event will be held on Thursday, December 18th, 2008, from 9pm – 2am at 111 Minna Gallery (111 Minna Street, San Francisco). 111 Minna is 21+

We’re thrilled to announce that Into Infinity, the remixable art and music exhibition produced by dublab and Creative Commons, will make one of its first “real world” appearances as a physical installation at the party. Digital renderings of the show’s visual works will be run through a software program that melds random pieces together to create new combinations. The resulting feed will be delivered to a projector and displayed against a wall to provide ever-changing visual stimuli to our partygoers. Additionally, there will be a live performance by DJs Jimmy Tamborello, Frosty, Professor Cantaloupe, and matthewdavid, who will use Into Infinity’s sound loops as the basis for an improvisational electronic music show.

And, of course, there will be dancing! Music will be provided by DJs Ripley and Kid Kameleon, both regulars at Surya Dub in San Francisco.

Tickets will be sold at the door, but please RSVP to so we know you’re coming. 111 Minna is 21+
From 9-11pm: $15 for CC Network members and $20 for non-members. Hosted bar: beer, wine, and well-drinks (cash bar otherwise). Join the CC Network today to secure your discount! After 11pm: $5 for CC Network members and $10 for non-members. Cash bar.

We hope you’ll join us for a fun and festive night of celebrating free culture and the future of Creative Commons! Everyone is welcome, but space is limited – so bring friends and arrive early!


12/12/2008 6:30pm Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center, Cambridge, MA

The Commons:  Celebrating Achievements, Discerning Futures

Jamie Boyle, Lawrence Lessig, Joi Ito, Molly S. Van Houweling, and Jonathan Zittrain

Friday, December 12, 6:30 pm
Ropes Gray Room, Pound Hall, Second Floor (Map)
RSVP required ( Facebook event page.
This event will be webcast live at 6:30 PM ET on 12/12.

Creative Commons and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society are pleased to invite you to a special event in Cambridge, MA on the evening of Friday, December 12, 2008, that will bring together some of the top thinkers on copyright in a digital age.

Panelists include:

A reception will follow at 7:30 pm. Space is limited. Please RSVP by December 1st to Melissa Reeder, Development Manager, at


November 2008

Professor James BoyleA Song’s Tale: Mashups, Borrowing and the Law“   November 24 at 12:15 p.m.    Duke Law School Room 3041         (webcast — requires Real Player)

“This is the story of a song and of that song’s history. But it is also a story about property and race and art, about the way copyright law has shaped, encouraged, and prohibited music over the last hundred years, about the lines it draws, the boundaries it sets, and the art it forbids…

On August 29th, 2005, a hurricane made landfall in Louisiana. The forecasters called it Hurricane Katrina, quickly shortened to Katrina as its story took over the news…”

These lines come from Professor James Boyle’s new book, The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind. In this lecture, Professor Boyle will describe the history of a single song – a protest song about the government’s inept response after Hurricane Katrina – and will trace its lineage back through more than a century, with stops in the work of Kanye West, Ray Charles, Clara Ward and many others. Each of these musicians borrowed from the music of others before them, yet they borrowed in different ways, under different legal rules, in a different musical culture. Their music was shaped, for better and worse, by those constraints. At the end of the 100 year journey, we can have a sense of how the music of the future may be shaped, and of what our musical culture will give up in the process.


From the Blog

  • (When) Is Copyright Reform Possible?

    I am posting here a draft of a chapter for Ruth Okediji’s forthcoming book on the possibilities of international intellectual property reform.  In my case, the article recounts the lessons I learned from being part of the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property in the UK.

    “In the five months we have had to compile the Review, we have sought never to lose sight of David Cameron’s “exam question”. Could it be true that laws designed more than three centuries ago with the express purpose of creating economic incentives for innovation by protecting creators’ rights are today obstructing innovation and economic growth? The short answer is: yes. We have found that the UK’s intellectual property framework, especially with regard to copyright, is falling behind what is needed. Copyright, once the exclusive concern of authors and their publishers, is today preventing medical researchers studying data and text in pursuit of new treatments. Copying has become basic to numerous industrial processes, as well as to a burgeoning service economy based upon the internet. The UK cannot afford to let a legal framework designed around artists impede vigorous participation in these emerging business sectors.” Ian Hargreaves, Foreword: Hargreaves Review (2011)

    Read the chapter.

  • Apple Updates — A Comic

    sampleEver been utterly frustrated, made furious, by an Apple upgrade that made things worse?  This post is for you.  (With apologies to Randall Munroe.)

  • Open Coursebook in Intellectual Property

    Cover of Intellectual Property: Law & the Information Society and link to purchase at Amazon.comDuke’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain is announcing the publication of Intellectual Property: Law & the Information Society—Cases and Materials by James Boyle and Jennifer Jenkins. This book, the first in a series of Duke Open Coursebooks, is available for free download under a Creative Commons license. If you do not want to use the entire casebook you can view and download the individual chapters (in a variety of formats) here. It can also be purchased in a glossy paperback print edition for $29.99, $130 cheaper than other intellectual property casebooks.

    read more

  • So you’ve invented fantasy football, now what?

    We are posting excerpts from our new coursebook Intellectual Property: Law and the Information Society which will be published in two weeks is out now! It will be is of course  freely downloadable, and sold in paper for about $135 less than other casebooks.  (And yes, it will include  discussions  of whether one should ever use the term “intellectual property.” )  The book is full of practice examples..  This is one from Chapter One, on the theories behind intellectual property: “What if you came up with the idea of Fantasy Football?”  No legal knowledge necessary.  Why don’t you test your argumentative abilities…?

  • Free/Low Cost Intellectual Property Statutory Supplement

    Today, we are proud to announce the publication of our 2014 Intellectual Property  Statutory Supplement as a freely downloadable Open Course Book. Statutes Cover  It offers the full text of the Federal Trademark, Copyright and Patent statutes (including edits detailing the changes made by the America Invents Act.)  It also has a number of important international treaties and a  chart which compares the various types of Federal intellectual property rights — their constitutional basis, subject matter, length, exceptions and so on.You can see it here in print, or download it for free, here

  • Persnickety Snit

    This is the fourth in a series of postings of material drawn from our forthcoming, Creative Commons licensed, open coursebook on Intellectual Property.  It is about lawyers and language. 

  • Macaulay on Copyright

    Macaulay’s 1841 speech to the House of Commons on copyright law is often cited and not much read.  In fact, the phrase “cite unseen” gains a new meaning.  That is a shame, because it is masterful.  (And funny.) One fascinating moment?  When Macaulay warns that copyright maximalism will lead to a future of rampant illegality, as all happily violate a law that is presumed to have lost all moral legitimacy.

    At present the holder of copyright has the public feeling on his side. Those who invade copyright are regarded as knaves who take the bread out of the mouths of deserving men. Everybody is well pleased to see them restrained by the law, and compelled to refund their ill-gotten gains. No tradesman of good repute will have anything to do with such disgraceful transactions. Pass this law: and that feeling is at an end. Men very different from the present race of piratical booksellers will soon infringe this intolerable monopoly. Great masses of capital will be constantly employed in the violation of the law. Every art will be employed to evade legal pursuit; and the whole nation will be in the plot…  Remember too that, when once it ceases to be considered as wrong and discreditable to invade literary property, no person can say where the invasion will stop. The public seldom makes nice distinctions. The wholesome copyright which now exists will share in the disgrace and danger of the new copyright which you are about to create.

    The legal change he thought would do that?  Extending copyright to the absurd length of life plus 50 years.  (It is now life plus 70).  Ah, Thomas, if only you could have been there for the Sonny Bono Term Extension debates.

  • Mark Twain on the Need for Perpetual Copyright

    This is the second in a series of postings of material drawn from our forthcoming, Creative Commons licensed, open coursebook on Intellectual Property.  The first was Victor Hugo: Guardian of the Public Domain The book will be released in late August.

    In 1906, Samuel Clemens (who we remember better by his pen name Mark Twain) addressed Congress on the reform of the Copyright Act.  Delicious.

  • Victor Hugo: Guardian of the Public Domain

    Jennifer Jenkins and I are frantically working to put together a new open casebook on Intellectual Property Law.  (It will be available, in beta version, this Fall under a CC license, and freely downloadable in multiple formats of course.  Plus it should sell in paper form for about $130 less than the competing casebooks. The accompanying statutory supplement will be 1/5  the price of most statutory supplements — also freely downloadable.)  More about that later.  While assembling the materials for a casebook, one gets to revisit the archives, reread the great writers.  Today I was revisiting Victor Hugo.  Hugo was a fabulous — inspiring, passionate — proponent of the rights of authors, and the connection of those rights to free expression and free ideas.

  • “We Need To Start Seeing Other Futures..”

    Today is the second day of “Copyright Week!” Talk about a lede. That sentence has all the inherent excitement of “Periodontal Health Awareness Week” or “‘Hug Your Proctologist! No, After He’s Washed His Hands’ Week.” And that’s a shame. Copyright Week is a week devoted to our relationship with our own culture. Hint: things aren’t going well. The relationship is on the rocks.

  • Discussion: “The Foolish War Against Song-Lyric Websites”

    Professor Alex Sayf Cummings, author of a fascinating book called Democracy of Sound: Music Piracy and the Remaking of American Copyright in the 20th Century (recommended as a  thought-provoking read)  has an interesting  post up about attempts to shut down music lyric sites such as

  • The Top Ten List of a Conference Planner

    Academics (and others) arrange conferences.  Perfectly normal people are invited to those conferences to speak.  Most of them are just as charming as can be… but then there are the special ones.  This Top 10 List of the special people one has to respond to is devoted to all conference planners everywhere.  Hold your heads up high.  After this, purgatory should be a snap.

  • (EM)I Has A Dream

    EM(I) Has A DreamAugust 28th, 2013 is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. The copyright in the speech is administered by EMI, with the consent of the King family. Thus the speech may not be freely played on video or reproduced and costlessly distributed across the nation — even today. Its transient appearance depends on the copyright owner’s momentary sufferance, not public right. It may disappear from your video library tomorrow. It has even been licensed to advertise commercial products, including cars and mobile phone plans.

  • The Prosecution of Aaron: A Response to Orin Kerr

    Aaron Swartz committed suicide last week.  He was 26, a genius and my friend.  Not a really good friend, but someone I had worked with off and on for 11 years, liked a lot, had laughed with frequently, occasionally shaken my head over and deeply admired.

  • The Hargreaves Review

    An Intellectual Property System for the Internet Age

    James Boyle

    In November 2010, the Prime Minister commissioned a review of the Britain’s intellectual property laws and their effect on economic growth, quoting the founders of Google that “they could never have started their company in Britain” because of a lack of flexibility in British copyright..  Mr. Cameron wanted to see if we could have UK intellectual property laws “fit for the Internet age.”   Today the Review will be published. Its conclusion?  “Could it be true that laws designed more than three centuries ago with the express purpose of creating economic incentives for innovation by protecting creators’ rights are today obstructing innovation and economic growth?  The short answer is: yes.” Those words are from Professor Ian Hargreaves, head of the Review.   (Full disclosure: I was on the Review’s panel of expert advisors.)

  • Keith Aoki — A Remembrance Book

    A slideshow and downloadable book remembering Keith in words and pictures.  You can order a glossy, high quality copy of the book itself here from Createspace or here from Amazon.  We tried to make it as beautiful as something Keith would create.  We failed. But we came close; have a look at how striking it is… all because of Keith’s art.

  • Now THAT is how you teach a class

  • RIP, Keith Aoki

    Our friend, colleague, co-author and brilliant artist and scholar Keith Aoki died yesterday in his house in Sacramento.  He was 55 years old.

  • The Future of the Constitution?

    The Brookings Institution has organized a volume on “The Future of the Constitution” edited by Jeff Rosen and Benjamin Wittes and featuring articles by me, Larry Lessig, Jonathan Zittrain, Tim Wu and many others.  How will our constitutional tradition deal with the challenges posed by new technologies?  The topics range from possible personhood claims by artificial intelligences, to the future of free speech and the Net, to neuroscience and criminal punishment.  The essays are freely available online. Details after the jump.

  • Presumed Guilty

    My new FT column is up. Shakespeare, copyright, Scott Turow and a shadowy group of law professors..  What could be more fun? Ungated version after the jump. 

  • Waiting for ‘Waiting for Godot’

    What Could Have Been Entering the Public Domain on January 1, 2011?
    read more

  • Fantasy & Reality in Intellectual Property Policy

    My new column for the FT is up.  It deals with the incredible weakness of the data on which our intellectual property policy proceeds.   Ungated version after the jump

  • CBC Radio Interview on the History of Copyright

    Nora Young and the folk at CBC’s Spark have done it again, with a really nicely presented episode that includes a feature on copyright.  Nora interviews me about the history of copyright…  in 5 minutes.

  • EFF Pioneer Award Video

    Is here. I appear at 3:25 or so.

  • EFF Party in San Francisco!

    On November 8th, Cory Doctorow, John Perry Barlow, and numerous other digital luminaries will be gathering at the Minna Gallery in San Francisco for the EFF’s Pioneer Awards Party.  Cory is going to be the MC and — when not featured on XKCD blogging from a ballon in a red cape and goggles…

  • Follow thepublicdomain on Twitter.



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