Yale Law School Reputation Economies Symposium organizers are congratulated on a stellar event that assembled leading thought leaders on an array of legal aspects from privacy to trademark and copyright laws, and more. The speaker and panels links give a taste of the day. The position papers (available through the panels link) make interesting reading.
While each session provided interesting nuggets the following stood out for me:
1. Professor Beth Noveck, Director, Institute for Information Law and Policy NYLS addressing the issue of who owns an online reputation?
Context was the case of eBay removing a member's profile and reputation rankings built over 8 years. The member was selling an Avatar that Sony claimed violated their copyright/trademark violation.
Professor Noveck's position paper argues reputations are not individually owned:
"This requires, first, that we recognize that in on-line settings reputation is not the creation– and hence not the exclusive property – of the individual who is being rated nor of the publisher who supplies the tools for reputation-creation. Rather, it is the community in a social network that creates reputation.* My eBay score is the collective product of the members who contributed to that reputation.
The group should have a voice in how that reputation is treated and the legal treatment of reputation should recognize the community, not the individual and not the technological intermediary, as the rightful “owner” of reputation."
2 Alessandro Acquisti, Assistant Professor of Information Technology and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon, School of Public Policy and Management
This presentation addressed "Searching for Privacy and Looking for Fame: Thoughts on (Bad) Reputations, Online Social Networks, and Behavioral Economics". It added interesting dimensions to the Facebook Groups in Business Study peers and I are conducting.
3. John Clippinger, Senior Fellow Berkman Center for Internet & Society at The Harvard Law School
Clippinger directs the Higgins Project, "a program on open security and digital identity that gives people control over their personal information". He is the author of A Crowd of One: The Future of Individual Identity, Perseus, Public Affairs, 2007.
His position paper argues:
"What is important about the example of reputation systems in biology for human based reputations – off line and online – is that they are constantly evolving and that the locus of control is with the individual, at the edge of the network. Although there are aggregation or “mashups” of individual entities resulting in social networks that take on their own identities and reputations, the viability of these aggregated networks is dependent upon the persistence and stability of the individual entities." ~ John Clippinger
A couple of take-aways
i. The array of issues and early days in evolution of reputation economies.
It is clearly early days in understanding how reputation economies work and the legal aspects. On this though I have to respectfully question Facebook advisor and retired Federal Trade Commission member Mozelle Thompson's observation about Facebook confronting legal issues at the edge.
I suspect my PRODIGY alumni colleagues who were lawyers deeply involved in translating existing laws into day-to-day practice two decades ago, and influencing early legislation regarding online services, may argue significant foundations have been laid.
ii. I will never count technology company behemoths IBM and Microsoft out.
Both were present revealing their constant attention to the 'edge" and research commitments
IBM was represented on the last panel of the day by Bob Sutor, Vice President Open Source and Standards, Chairman of the IBM internal Corporate Standards Advisory Committee and the Open Source Steering Committee.
His speaker description indicates he is:
".. the executive responsible for driving and executing the cross-company business and technical strategy for open standards and open source as they relate to software, hardware, services, vertical industries, and emerging markets. In particular, helps move IBM from its traditional technical and intellectual property approach to one where business exploitation of standards and open source for greater customer value is paramount*, especially in vertical industries and emerging markets."
Microsoft was the event sponsor and represented by Microsoft computer science PhD. and Senior Researcher Darko Kirovski whose speaker bio reveals his interests and accomplishments as:
" Web services including reputation networks, reliable computing, system security, multimedia processing, and embedded system design*. He has received the 1999 Microsoft Graduate Research Fellowship, the 2000 ACM/IEEE Design Automation Conference Graduate Scholarship, the 2001 ACM Outstanding Ph.D. Dissertation Award in Electronic Design Automation, and best paper awards at the ACM Multimedia 2002 and the IEEE MMSP 2006. He has authored more than 100 journal and conference papers and filed more than 40 patents."
While Saturday's rich conversations focused on the legal dimensions of reputation economies, for me it is the interaction between technology driving change, human behavior, and the legal system striving to adapt that is really interesting.
~ Jenny Ambrozek
* My highlighting