Cyber Scholar Working Group, Nov 13

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Secret Lives of Robots.txt (Joris van Hoboken)
The Ethical Visions of Copyright Law (James Grimmelmann)
Yale University Libraries, Digital Technology, and Copyright (Charles Cronin, Melanie Dulong de Rosnay)

Thursday, November 13, 2008
Yale Law School
Room 129
6:00 ? 8:30 pm, pizza
6:30 ? 8:30 pm, presentations
Open to the public and pizza provided: RSVP to

Full Announcement, abstracts, and bios also here:

ISP home page:

The Secret Lives of Robots.txt: Sanctioning the Use of Robots Exclusion Protocols
Joris van Hoboken

Robots.txt is a simple but successful hack from the nineties that helps to mediate the relationship between websites and search engines. It is widely used but has never obtained an official status. Increasingly, courts, industry groups, and regulatory agencies, however, are seeking to tie legal implications to the use and existence of robots exclusion protocols. In this presentation I will discuss a few recent developments with regard to such legal sanctioning in the U.S. and in Europe and question the possible implications of these developments from the perspective of freedom of expression.

The Ethical Visions of Copyright Law
James Grimmelmann

Copyright law imagines a particular ethical ideal for the relationship between author and audience: mutually-respectful market exchange. Even opponents of expansive copyrights often frame arguments in terms of this ideal and deviations from it: “Don’t sue your customers” is merely the ethical mirror image of “Respect copyrights.” A more radical critique, one sometimes associated with the free software movement, looks at this relationship and sees not mutual respect but instead authors behaving badly. The ambiguity between these two critiques, one internal to copyright’s dominant ethical vision and one attacking the vision itself, explains some of the ambiguities surrounding the Creative Commons project.

Yale University Libraries, Digital Technology, and Copyright
Charles Cronin and Melanie Dulong de Rosnay

Charles will discuss his work toward an online resource designed to provide copyright “best practices” guidance for Yale librarians. The project aims to offer librarians swift analysis of, and advice about, the day-to-day copyright uncertainties of library work and thus help avoid the uncomfortable position librarians often find themselves in of having to make conservative determinations on copyright questions rather than exposing the University to risk of infringement liability.
And in conjunction with Charles Cronin’s presentation, Melanie Dulong de Rosnay will present “Building a Distance Learning Course on Copyright for Librarians: Objectives and Challenges” on the development of the project “Copyright for Librarians – A Distance Learning Course,” from requirements definition to the testing of a prototype, leading to the current review and final drafting phase and future implementation plans.

Joris van Hoboken is a visiting researcher at the Berkman Center and a PhD Researcher at the Institute for Information Law (IViR), University of Amsterdam. He studies search engine law, in particular the implications of freedom of expression for the governance of information flows in the context of Web search engines. Former co-director for Bits of Freedom, a Dutch digital civil rights organization, and co-founder of European Digital Rights (EDRI), he holds a degree in law (LL.M., cum laude) and theoretical mathematics (M.Sc., cum laude).

James Grimmelmann is an Associate Professor at New York Law School. As a lawyer and technologist, he aims to help these two groups speak intelligibly to each other.

Charles Cronin is a visiting fellow at the Information Society Project as well as a musician and a lawyer from Los Angeles. He has an undergraduate degree from Oberlin, and an MA and PhD in musicology from Stanford. He earned a JD from American University and a Masters in Information Systems from Berkeley.

Melanie Dulong de Rosnay, a fellow at the Berkman Center, directs the project “Copyright for Librarians – A Distance Learning Course” in partnership with eIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries).

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