Saturday, September 28, 2013

Information Law Symposium At Free University Of Berlin, 26-27 September 2013

This week (26-27 September 2013) I had an honor to be invited to speak at the Information Law Symposium at Free University of Berlin.

The event, hosted by the inviting institution in collaboration with Saint Petersburg State University, united several scholars from Russia and Germany interested in modern problems of the Internet law. Most of the colleagues represented public law (in particular, administrative law) branch.

Pervasive problem of the modern law which was a common thread of the symposium was personal data protection in the age of the Internet. Ironically, the personal data protection considerations prevent me from sharing the names of other participants as I do not yet have their confirmation for disclosure, and the event was not public by default.

However, I am entitled to speak freely for myself and the ideas which I presented (click 'READ MORE' below).

The core idea of my presentation was to show an interpretation of the Internet law methodology, helpful both in research and legal practice. I used an 'ordinary' presentation located here and a prezi located here to visualize my theoretical generalizations. The 'ordinary' presentation went first and it had an element of risk as I started with a personal Internet trolling case instead of court practice.

A case which I called the 'Malshandir accident' involved a discussion at, a popular Everquest 2 fansite where several lawyers gave comments on a presumably patent troll's attack to the website owner, Feldon. This presumable patent troll claimed that he had a trademark 'Malshandir' registered in Germany, and that Feldon should remove anything associated with this name. 

The problem was that the name 'Malshandir' was the name of an Everquest 2 characted which showed up in a Sony Online Entertainment API built into Feldon's website. The entire thread is here. You may notice that the lawyers giving comments to the website owner were criticized by other users. As for me, I got a warning to be careful with what may be interpreted as legal advice - due to the fact that the forum thread may be accessed from Germany, as one of the users said, I may be brought to responsibility for giving legal advice without having a German license.

This illustration was a bridge to the generalization about three pervasive problems of the Internet: identification of users, jurisdiction and responsibility of information intermediaries. More elaboration on how these problems showed up in the 'Malshandir accident' is given in the last slide of the presentation.  

And besides these pervasive problems there also are three other blocks of theoretical generalizations which is useful to have in mind when you think about the Internet law. The first one is the general impact factors of the Internet which are volume, speed, accessibility, globality and simplicity (especially in WEB 2.0 environment). The second one is the general means of regulation - law, morality, market and architecture - which can and should be used in the Internet, with the priority of architecture (here I follow and Interpretation of Lawrence Lessig's ideas expressed in 'The Law of the Horse...' article). The last block refers to the two main approcaches to regulating the Internet architecture - the layers approach, developed by Lawrence B. Solum and Minn Chung, and the indiscriminate infrastructure elements approach reflected in many current legal systems.

The general hypothesis behind all this is that all four generalization areas described in conjunction may give an insight how to solve specific problems of the Internet governance arising in the modern world. I will. give more details on this in an article written in collaboration with one of my CIS colleagues to be released soon in Russian and English. At this stage please let me confine myself to the links provided above.

As regards the symposium itself, I can only say 'vielen dank' to my German colleauges involved in organization of the event and production of the content, as there are very few countries in the world where any event is coordinated at high professional level. 

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