Public Conference: May 18-20, 2006
Few areas of law are changing as rapidly as intellectual property law. With the growth of new technologies for communicating ideas, the development of e-commerce, and the globalization of the marketplace for goods and information, intellectual property law faces issues and challenges unlike those it has faced in the past. The dizzying pace of change requires new ways of thinking about intellectual property and the accompanying issues of copyright, fair use, public domain, artistic creation, and other concepts that have traditionally defined the field.
Typically, conferences addressing intellectual property issues have, first, been sponsored by law schools and been driven by considerations of legal issues confronting the field; and, second, have focused on the application of intellectual property law to a particular set of industries or field of endeavor (for example, music, biotechnology, software, or humanities archives). The Princeton University-Microsoft Intellectual Property Conference will diverge from this model in two ways. First, it will focus less on legal doctrine per se, and more on the consequences of intellectual property law for the actual practices of creative workers. Second, the conference will bring to the table scholars and practitioners in several fields – science, the arts, software design, archiving – in an explicit effort to induce intellectual cross-pollination and drive the conversation beyond the usual boundaries of disciplinary discourse. We anticipate that organizing the meetings in this way will push legal scholars and others to explore new ways of framing and conceptualizing old and sometimes intractable legal issues.
We plan to strike a balance between issues confronting creators and those confronting users. In particular, the unique role of the university (as creator, user, patron, disseminator, owner) will be explored in some depth. We expect the conference to generate one or more significant research initiatives designed to collect and analyze empirical data on the relationship between intellectual property regimes and the practices of creative workers.
The conference is being organized by the Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, the Program in Law and Public Affairs, and the Center for Information Technology Policy at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and funded by the Microsoft Corporation, with additional support from the Rockefeller Foundation.
The primary objectives of the Princeton University-Microsoft Intellectual Property Conference are to:
- Induce a conversation among people from different fields (e.g., information technology, biotech, the arts, literature and the humanities, legal studies) with the hope that perspectives from each field will help people imagine fresh approaches. This conversation will be encouraged by focusing primarily upon dilemmas and practices in the fields themselves, as opposed to legal doctrines or questions, per se.
- Generate synthetic insights, grounded by a discussion of practices across disciplines, with implications for further research, the evolution of intellectual property law, and public policy.
- For some fields (e.g., biotech), the conference should serve to help define problems and their consequences, educate scientists, and articulate policy solutions.
Some key questions to be considered include:
- What kinds of intellectual-property regimes enable creators in different fields to best work up to their potential?
- What intellectual-property regimes allow for the maximum public good to be derived from artistic and scientific creations?
- What policy approaches are best able to reconcile the competing interests of creators, users, and disseminators of intellectual property?
- How do ethical considerations regarding practices, consequences, and the law differ across fields?
- What are the unintended consequences of existing intellectual property