Roll Up! Roll Up!

April 14, 2009

Sorry. It really is hard not to sound like a fairground barker when you have something to market that really is as good as it can get.

Of course little of the strap line is actually true. The SCL/OII Lectures are an entirely new initiative so they are not improved. Whether you find the internationally acknowledged experts like Jonathan Zittrain speaking on the future of the Internet more entertaining than Wii depends on your personal taste. And you do not get 50% extra CPD free – 100% of the CPD is free.

I will stick to the facts. SCL and the Oxford Internet Institute have got together to present a series of lectures focusing on the Internet, Society and Law under the general heading of New Law for a New World. The lectures aim to provide a platform for leading international scholars to address emerging legal issues concerning the Internet: its use, governance and regulation.  Each lecture carries 1.5 hours of CPD. Admission to the lectures is free. SCL members who are unable to attend can listen to the lectures online in a podcast and answer  related questions – and still get the CPD free.
The thinking behind the collaboration in the provision of lecures is that the Internet is raising new questions about legal principles, their implementation and enforcement in cyberspace. Does an understanding of law and the Internet simply require a more technologically sophisticated analysis of traditional legal principles, or is the Internet creating a need for new perspectives on law and regulation?

The first lecture was given by Professor Roger Brownsword at the end of March on Regulating Technologies (but you can still catch it on the SCL website as a podcast). SCL Chair Bill Jones reported on it and described it as ‘an excellent conceptual analysis of the interface between regulation and technology, and an intellectually invigorating start to this new lecture series’. Forthcoming lectures are from Dr Elizabeth Judge of the University of Ottawa on 6 May (at the Oxford Internet Institute) and Professor Jonathan Zittrain on 19 May (at Wragge & Co’s London office).

Dr Judge speaks on Presumed Intentions and the Copyright Bargain, an exploration of the issues surrounding online public access, Crown copyright and privacy. The lecture is subtitled Digital Copyright Reform, the Making Available Right, and Implied Licence for Public Body Uses of Copyrighted Works. Dr Judge boasts an enviable range of knowledge, being (by way only of example) project leader for Open Access Law Canada  and a researcher on the intersections between copyright and authorship. Her perspective is sure to be challenging.

Jonathan Zittrain’s lecture is entitled ‘The Future of the Internet: Private Sheriffs in Cyberspace’. Professor Zittrain is a Professor of Harvard Law School and Co-Founder and Faculty Director at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society. He is the author of ‘The Future of the Internet And How to Stop It’, a work which has been widely cited whenever regulation of the Internet is debated. Larry Lessig frequently cites him, indeed he cites him with such frequency that he uses the shorthand form ‘Z’. He will discuss the ways in which online life will be regulated largely by people and institutions bearing no badges or government affiliation and will ask whether private sheriffs help avoid cumbersome and ill-considered government intervention, or represent a new form of vigilante justice.

And there is a newly announced, and especially intriguing, lecture in June that has just been announced. On 25 June, Professor Daniel J Solove of the George Washington University Law School, Washington DC will speak on The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet at a London venue to be announced.

So you need to ask: Do I want to be intellectually invigorated? Do I want to be able to engage with my IT clients when they assess future problems in a wider context, looking beyond the limited horizon of current legislation and practice? And, even if the answer to both questions is ‘No’, surely you want free CPD?