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Forum to address Google and Digital Copyright

April 09, 2007

Wayne State University Law School is pleased to announce the fifth Driker Forum for Excellence in the Law on the topic of “Google in Court:  Copyright and the Universal Library” on Thursday, March 8, 2007.

The Forum will take place in the Law School’s Spencer M. Partrich Auditorium, 471 W. Palmer St., Detroit.  Coffee will be served at 5:30 pm, the Forum discussion will take place from 6 to 8 pm, and a reception will follow.

Digital technologies for storing and disseminating text, music, video, visual art, and other products of human creativity have opened the door to a future that some call the universal library.  In this future, all creative output could be universally available via the Internet.

The best known current effort to create the universal library is Google’s book digitization project through which the collections of several major university and public libraries will be made publicly available via the Web.  In 2005, the Authors Guild and a group of five major publishers brought lawsuits against Google, claiming that this project violates the copyright laws.  Google defends by arguing that its activities are fair use of the materials, and therefore do not violate the copyright laws.

Copyright laws are designed to enable authors to capture some of the economic value of their creations, giving them an economic incentive to create.  The ultimate goal of copyright, however, is to make authors’ creations widely available to the public.  Efforts like Google Book Search promote the latter goal, while arguably interfering with the former.

Are the copyright laws suited to the challenge of adjusting the balance between these two goals?  Should the laws be revised to take account of new technologies and new business models?  What sorts of changes to the copyright laws are needed to facilitate the birth of the universal library, while continuing to provide authors with an economic incentive to create?

The following panelists will address these and other issues relating to the universal library.  Oren Bracha is assistant professor of law at the University of Texas at Austin.  His dissertation "Owning Ideas" is a comprehensive intellectual history of Anglo-American intellectual property law. Bracha was a law clerk for Chief Justice Aharon Barak of the Supreme Court of Israel. Prior to joining the faculty at UT he worked on several teaching and research projects for the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. His fields of interest include intellectual property, cyber law, legal history and legal theory.

Hannibal Travis is assistant professor of law at the College of Law at Florida International University.  He teaches and researches in the fields of cyber law, intellectual property, antitrust, telecommunications, jurisprudence, and international human rights law.  Professor Travis clerked for the Hon. William Matthew Byrne, Jr., of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, and practiced intellectual property and Internet law in San Francisco, California.  Thereafter, he was an associate attorney in New York City, specializing in intellectual property and antitrust cases.  He has also advised human rights organizations with presences in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the Assyrian Democratic Movement and Women for Afghan Women.  His published works include law review articles in the areas of intellectual property and human rights.

Diane Zimmerman is the Samuel Tilden Professor of Law at New York University School of Law.  She has taught at NYU since 1977 and her courses include Torts, Copyright Law, Problems of a Free Press, and a colloquium in innovation policy.  She has published widely in the areas of copyright law, freedom of speech and the press, intellectual property (including serving as editor of the book Expanding the Boundaries of Intellectual Property, 2001) and gender inequality.

The Driker Forum for Excellence in the Law was established in honor of Eugene Driker, a distinguished Wayne State University Law School graduate and valued advisor to Law School deans.

The Driker Forum is free and open to the public.  Parking is available in Structure #1 across from the Law School, on Palmer Street (corner of Cass) for $3.50.  For further information, please contact Robin Dortenzio, (313) 577-3934.

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