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INFOSYS 296A / Section 2
Intellectual Property and the Future of
the Information Society

Tu 4 - 6
110 South Hall
Three Credits

Instructors Peter Lyman
E-mail: plyman@sims.berkeley.edu
Office Hours: 303A South Hall, 1 - 3 Fridays or by appointment
(510) 642-1087

Pam Samuelson
E-mail: pam@sims.berkeley.edu
Office Hours: 305B South Hall, 2-5 Mondays or by appointment
(510) 642-6775


Readings & Assignments  Course Syllabus

Writing Assignments

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The books are Frank Webster, Theories of the Information Society (1995) and James Boyle, Shamans, Software, and Spleens: Law and the Construction of the Information Society (1996).

The first coursepack (of three) is now available for sale at Ned's (on Bancroft). Due to some complexities in the reader producing process, the second reader is for sale at Copy Central, also on Bancroft. In addition, there are a number of other books relevant to Intellectual Property and the Future of the Information Society. These books might give you some ideas for a major paper topic, if you chose to write one.


Course Description

It is often said that the 21st century will be an information society: one in which intellectual property will drive the global economy, and yet, at the same time, widespread access to information and new modes of communication will create a more just civil society and polity. For all of the power of these ideas, there is little agreement on the definition of an information society in theory-or even on whether one exists or is emerging in practice-and the nature of the legal rules and technological inventions necessary to bring about a good or just information society. This seminar will explore both the theory and practice of the information society: testing theory through case studies, and seeking the theoretical assumptions behind information policy proposals, legal cases, legislation and political disputes.

At the heart of current debates about copyright law and policy in Congress, on the net, and in the international community are some fundamentally different conceptions about the nature of intellectual property, its role in the information economy, and the kind of social order into which intellectual property can and should fit. This seminar will ask how intellectual property rules might be framed so as simultaneously to allow the information economy to thrive and contribute to a just social order. It will do so by considering social theories of the information society, policy documents on intellectual property and electronic commerce for the information society, and analyses of particular issues such as the responsibility that online service providers have as to infringing conduct by users, the future of libraries and fair use in digital networked environments, and the social implications of technical protections for copyrighted works.

The seminar will be deeply interdisciplinary in character, as the subject requires. Its instructors come from different fields, law and political science, and welcome students from a wide variety of fields. Insights from many fields are needed to construct a just information society and workable intellectual property rules. The seminar will draw upon readings from many disciplines and perspectives, including social theory, philosophy, law, art, and business. Background lectures will be provided as necessary, but the seminar will mainly feature analysis, discussion, and debate. Students enrolled in the seminar will be expected to develop well informed and original perspectives on information society and intellectual property in papers on particular legal or policy issues or concepts.


Instructions for Joining the Listserve 
The class e-mail dicussion list address is:
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To join the list, send an e-mail message to majordomo@sims.berkeley.edu with the phrase "subscribe infosociety" in the body of the message (you can leave the Subject: line blank).

The list is restricted to students enrolled in the course. If you have difficulty in signing up and wish to obtain assistance from a live human being, send e-mail to owner-infosociety@sims.berkeley.edu.



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