We previously reported about the Clinic’s amicus advocacy in a pair of cases concerning copyrights in legal standards and model codes incorporated into law. We are pleased to report that the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a ruling yesterday in favor of Public.Resource.Org, the organization that we supported (on behalf of two different groups of amici) in the district and circuit courts.
This month, Pakistan’s Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication released a draft Personal Data Protection Bill for public comment. The bill has a wide scope, encompassing at a basic level the commercial usage of data from which an individual is identifiable, and creates a key role for user consent. While not without areas for possible improvement, the bill represents a positive step for Pakistan’s internet-connected populace. With support from Cyberlaw Clinic, the Digital Rights Foundation (DRF), a Pakistani NGO that works in support of human rights and democratic processes online, submitted a policy brief to the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication while the initial drafting of the bill was underway. DRF founder Nighat Dad said, “Working with the Harvard Cyberlaw Clinic was a unique experience, both personally and professionally… I believe that such platforms add indispensable value to the global advocacy endeavours and tremendously help in successful attempts at making the internet more inclusive and approachable.”
The Harvard Law Bulletin‘s Summer 2018 issue highlights the work of the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Initiative, a project based jointly at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society and the MIT Media Lab. Members of the Cyberlaw Clinic team have been actively involved in many aspects of the Initiative, including Chris Bavitz and Kira Hessekiel (who have spearheaded the Center’s work on government use of algorithmic tools); Mason Kortz and Jess Fjeld (who have worked on cutting-edge issues around the intersection of artificial intelligence and the arts); Kendra Albert (who has played the role of product counsel on a number of innovative AI-related projects); and Vivek Krishnamurthy and Hannah Hilligoss (who have led the charge on the Center’s ongoing work examining the human rights implications of AI). This work has also become integrated into the Clinic docket — students have assisted with an open letter sent to members of the MA legislature about pre-trial risk assessments, advised the developer of an art-generating AI system in license negotiations, and provided legal support for teams in the BKC / MITML “Assembly” program.
The United States Supreme Court has issued its long-awaited ruling in Carpenter v. United States, holding that the government must get a warrant before obtaining cell site location information from an individual’s cell phone provider. The decision marks a significant development in Fourth Amendment jurisprudence in the digital age, and the Court commented extensively on the unique nature of cell phones and cell phone location records. The Court’s ruling has important implications for the future of the third-party doctrine, as the Court held, “the fact that the information is held by a third party does not by itself overcome the user’s claim to Fourth Amendment protection.”
Steve Meil (HLS JD ’18), Vinitra Rangan (HLS JD ’18), and Frederick Ding (HLS JD ’18), with Chris Bavitz from the Cyberlaw Clinic at the Clinic’s Year-End Event
The beginning of June marks the arrival of summer interns — affectionately known as “Berkterns” — at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society and the Cyberlaw Clinic. As we begin to settle into our summer routine, we wanted to look back at the 2017-18 academic year and bid a fond farewell to our graduating Cyberlaw Clinic alumni from the Harvard Law School class of ’18. It has been a remarkable year at the Clinic — a year of remarkable work spearheaded by our remarkable students.
Alexa Singh (HLS JD ’18), with Jess Fjeld from the Cyberlaw Clinic
The Law School held its annual “Class Day” festivities on Wednesday, May 23, the day before Harvard’s formal commencement. The HLS-wide Class Day celebration included remarks from HLS Dean John Manning; winner of the Albert M. Sacks-Paul A. Freund Award for Teaching Excellence, HLS Professor Carol Steiker; winner of the Staff Appreciation Award, Edgar Kley Filho; and U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (among many others). The Clinic held its annual year-end event that day for students and their families on the front steps of the Berkman Klein Center’s offices in the little yellow house at 23 Everett Street. Attendees included students who had worked with the Clinic on a wide variety of matters during their time at the Law School, from amicus briefs, to direct client advising, to transactional work, litigation, and policy advocacy. It is always a pleasure to meet the families of students we have come to know so well during their time at HLS and see them off as they prepare to apply their well-earned skills and knowledge in service of new clients and constituencies.
Of the four students whose work is represented in the Harvard Law Review’s April 2018 “Developments in the Law” issue, three are former students in the Cyberlaw Clinic and all have taken classes with our staff. The issue of the Law Review focuses on challenges posed by the vast amount of personal information that individuals now store digitally and with third party technology companies. The student authors, Audrey Adu-Appiah, Chloe Goodwin, Vinitra Rangan, and Ariel Teshuva, presented on their work to a packed room on Thursday, April 18, at the Law School, followed by a conversation moderated by Chris Bavitz.
The Cyberlaw Clinic is preparing for the last segment in the seventh triennial proceeding for exemptions to the anti-circumvention clause of the DMCA—the oral hearings, which are to be held on April 12th, at 2:00 p.m. ET in Washington, D.C and will be livestreamed online here. At this hearing, there will be two panels of testifying witnesses—one in support of the exemption, the other in opposition—appearing before a panel of Copyright Office representatives. The Clinic is coordinating the efforts of the supporting experts, which includes Cyberlaw Clinic Instructional Fellow Kendra Albert, Jessica Meyerson of the Software Preservation Network, Henry Lowood of the Stanford University Libraries, Lyndsey Jane Moulds of Rhizome at the New Museum, and Jonathan Band of the Library Copyright Alliance. The majority of the time will be spent addressing specific questions posed by the Copyright Office during the hearing.
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The week of February 26th is fair use week / fair dealing week, which “celebrates the important doctrines of fair use in the United States and fair dealing in Canada and other jurisdictions.” The Harvard Library Office for Scholarly Communication is putting on fifth anniversary fair use week event — “Tried and True: Fair Use Tales for the Telling” — at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies. Sign up at the website to hear perspectives from luminaries, including Kenneth Crews, David Hansen, and Rebekah Modrak, among many others. The Clinic’s Chris Bavitz joins Laura Quilter and Dan Booth that morning for a discussion entitled “Litigation and Fair Use, the Last 15 Years.”
We in the Cyberlaw Clinic believe that the statute of limitations on year-in-review blog posts expires at the end of the first quarter of the following year. (If you require evidence for this claim, we’ll kindly point you to Orin Kerr’s “Theory of Law.”) With that in mind — as we dig into our newest batch of projects during the Harvard Law School spring term — it seems like a good time to look back and reflect on the past year. It was — to say the least — an eventful one here in the Cyberlaw Clinic, for students and staff alike.
Chris Bavitz, Kira Hessekiel, and Mason Kortz on the Cyberlaw Clinic team joined this letter to Massachusetts legislators, addressing proposals re: the use of risk assessment tools in the Commonwealth’s criminal justice system. A conference committee of the Massachusetts legislature is now working to reconcile House and Senate criminal justice reform bills, each of which includes provisions about the use of RA tools. The letter — sent on behalf of researchers at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society and the MIT Media Lab — urges deliberation and study rather than a mandate that requires adoption of such tools. Cullen O’Keefe — a spring 2018 Cyberlaw Clinic student — assisted in preparation of the letter.