In 2000, the National Research Council published THE DIGITAL DILEMMA, (1) a report on the complex challenge to established norms created by the radical growth in information technology. As the report notes, "many of the intellectual property rules and practices that evolved in the world of physical artifacts do not work well in the digital environment...." (2) If, as I believe, the law of copyright creates the infrastructure for our culture, the way in which that law responds to this challenge has profound implications for that culture.
On the assumption that the most productive way to respond to the challenge is to examine it from different perspectives and interests, a diverse array of distinguished individuals from a variety of fields have periodically come together to discuss the multidisciplinary effect of the interface of law and digital communication technology on the creation, dissemination, and protection of intellectual property. The first two such interdisciplinary exploration took place at The Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University in February 2000 (and the papers presented were published in the Ohio State Law Journal (3)) and in March, 2001 (and the principal papers presented there were published in the Journal of the Copyright Society of the United State of American (4)).
The exploration continued in October, 2006 in New York City, under the auspices of Albany Law School. These conferences were designed to facilitate rich and candid interchange. To that end, the format was one of "total immersion," a continuing plenary session in which, although divided for convenience into sequentially scheduled "panels" of speakers and commentators, all of the more than thirty participants were each fully participating in all of the sessions.
The 2006 Conference panels (selections from which follow) were spread over three days. Responding to the continually changing environment, and, more particularly to the greater need for understanding these issues in an international and a trans-national context, the participants examined:
The Normative Role of Copyright Law: Rethinking the Purpose of Copyright Law in Light of Technological Change--The presenters and panelists considered the fundamental basis for protection and the way in which the problem of dissonance between observed behavior and the laws protecting intellectual property may be ameliorated.
Globalization and Harmonization--This discussion focused on how we are to fit what had been traditional "territorial" constructs of intellectual property law into the reality of an electronically borderless world. …