Openlaw — Home

Welcome to the Berkman Center’s Openlaw site. Openlaw is an experiment in crafting legal argument…

Openlaw — Home

Openlaw — Home

Openlaw — Home

Welcome to
Berkman Center’s
Openlaw site.

Openlaw is an experiment in crafting legal argument in an open forum. With
your assistance, we will develop arguments, draft pleadings, and edit
briefs in public, online. Non-lawyers and lawyers alike are invited to
join the process by adding thoughts to the “brainstorm” outlines, drafting
and commenting on drafts in progress, and suggesting reference sources.

Building on the model of open source software, we are working from the
hypothesis that an open development process best harnesses the distributed
resources of the Internet community. By using the Internet, we hope to
enable the public interest to speak as loudly as the interests of
corporations. Openlaw
is therefore a large project built through the coordinated effort of many
small (and not so small) contributions.

Openlaw continues to experiment with various collaboration tools
to connect its participants.

[ Cases: Eldred v. Ashcroft
| Open
| Microsoft
| Archive ]

Our first Openlaw case, Eldred v.
(now Eldred v. Ashcroft), challenged the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension
Act — Congress’s recent 20 year extension of the term of copyright
protection — on behalf of publishers and users of public domain
works. After the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s judgment against us on appeal, with Judge
Sentelle dissenting
in part
, two judges dissented from denial of rehearing
en banc.
The Supreme Court heard argument court October 9, 2002, and
issued its 7-2 decision rejecting our challenge to the extension’s constitutionality January 15, 2003.

See for further news and documents from the fight for balanced copyright.

In a second fight against copyright term extensions, Golan v. Ashcroft,
the Government has filed a motion to dismiss, and plaintiffs —
conductors, musicians, and other artists —
have replied. The case is stayed pending decision of
Eldred v. Ashcroft.

Support our fight for the public domain by joining Copyright’s Commons, a
coalition against the copyright extension or by marking your works
with a Creative Commons license.

Open DVD:
Does digitizing content effectively remove it from public
That may be the result if commercial Hollywood succeeds
in “the DVD cases.” The DVD Copy Control Association (DVDCCA) and
members of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) are suing
Web site operators who posted DeCSS–a software program that can
decrypt and read the data encoded on commercial DVDs. We are helping
the defendants assert the public’s right to comment, criticize,
discuss, and build upon DVD technology and the video it contains,
fighting the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s overextension of
content control. In
v. Reimerdes
, the injunction against posting of DeCSS has now
been affirmed by the Second Circuit.

Read the amicus brief we filed in
opposition to plaintiffs’ motion to enjoin 2600 Magazine from linking to DeCSS.

In our next case, open access, we will assist four
communities in an ongoing legal battle with AT&T over open access. The communities
filed a request
with the Commonwealth’s Department of Telecommunications and Energy’s (DTE) Cable Television Division for
full hearings on whether open access is in the public interest. The
communities earlier refused to allow transfer of cable licenses from MediaOne to AT&T unless AT&T agreed to offer Internet
Service Providers non-discriminatory access to the broadband network.

The Microsoft
invites readers to
join us in examining court documents, analyzing commentary by legal
experts on the issues involved, and developing a considered rationale for
the appropriate remedy to the Microsoft antitrust case. We hope to
technical and legal thinking in the search for a long-term solution
from both legal and technological standpoints.

Archived: Intel v.
Free Speech or Trespass? Berkman Center clinical student Bill McSwain wrote an
amicus brief for Ken Hamidi on appeal of an injunction barring him from
sending emails to Intel employees at their work addresses.

To join the Openlaw process, follow any of the links above, or register
to gain access to some of the forums, and then join in our


v. Lessig: A Debate on the Future of Intellectual Property
Oct. 1, 2000

MPAA head Jack
and Stanford Law Professor Larry Lessig faced
off in a debate on the future of intellectual property online. Will
content control or the public commons prevail?

See background materials or the archived webcast now online.

Oral Arguments in DeCSS Appeal, May
1, 2001

Stanford Law School Dean Kathleen Sullivan argued on behalf of
2600 Magazine in its appeal to the Second Circuit of Universal v. Reimerdes. 2600 argued that posting of DeCSS code is protected by the First Amendment
and necessary to preserve fair use of digital media. An unofficial transcript of the argument is now available.

The case will be
the first appellate ruling on the scope of the Digital Millennium
Copyright Act’s anticircumvention
. Openlaw participants submitted an amicus brief supporting 2600 in
the district court and assisted amici in the appeals briefing.

Openlaw at Ars Electronica, Sept. 1-5, 2001

Berkman Center Fellow Wendy Seltzer
traveled to Linz, Austria, to discuss the Openlaw project at the Ars Electronica festival.

Oral Argument in the Supreme Court on Eldred v. Ashcroft, Oct. 9, 2002

Lawrence Lessig argues before the United States Supreme Court on
behalf of petitioners Eric Eldred
et al., challenging the latest
extension of copyright terms

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