A May 4 UC Extension Conference on Protecting the Public Interest in
the Electronic Age
The legal debate over intellectual property that has arisen with the electronic age is certainly of vital importance to all members of a university community from researchers to artists, librarians to students. But the outcome of the debate will affect everyone because it will ultimately affect how information and ideas are generated, transmitted and preserved or changed in our society.
The value of copyright protection, the conflict between ideas as private property versus the public's right to access information, the transformation of art and scholarship in cyberspace and the meaning of fair use and the public interest are among the many issues being debated.
Unfortunately, rather than clarifying a very confusing situation, most of this debate has had a polarizing effect.
In May publishers, scholars, librarians, legal experts, writers and historians from around the country will come to the Berkeley campus with the goal of developing a strong vision of what the public interest is in all this and of ensuring that the public interest is represented in any changes to policy and law.
The conference is a collaborative project involving six Berkeley departments and several corporate and law firm sponsors, with coordination provided by Kathleen Vanden Heuvel and Michael Levy, librarians from the School of Law.
Speakers represent a variety of points of view and include Esther Dyson, president of EDventure Holdings; Carla Hesse, professor of history at Berkeley; Clifford Lynch, director of UC library automation; Paul Even Peters, executive director of the Coalition for Networked Information and Monroe Price, professor of law at Yeshiva University, Benjamin Cardozo Law School.
Also Mark Rose, professor of English at UC Santa Barbara; Pamela Samuelson, professor of law at Cornell University; Jonathan Tasini, president of the National Writers Union; and Hal Varian, dean of the School of Information and Management Systems at Berkeley.
University sponsors include the Librarians Association at Berkeley, the Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities, the University Library, Boalt Hall, the School of Information and Management Systems, the UC Office of the President and UC Berkeley Extension. Corporate and law firm sponsors are Apple Computer, Sun Micro-systems, and Townsend, Townsend & Crew.