Here, at last, is a review of the GikII workshop held in London on September 19th. Rather than link to each paper individually (as this review covers the entire programme), this is a link to the index of all presentations, ready for download (most are powerpoints, a few are full papers). The affiliations (university or other) of presenters are included in brackets, and I’ve linked to blogs where I know of them (add a comment if I leave yours out).
Session 1: Virtuality and Virtual Communities
Andres Guadamuz (and his alter ego Technollama) (Edinburgh) reviewed the various types of economic and governance models within virtual worlds, drawing intriguing parallels with failed states in the real world. It was appropriate that he was followed by a just-off-the-train Abbe Brown (also of Edinburgh) with a look at competition and human rights law within games/virtual worlds – summarising some of the IP-related cases commenced to date and even taking a leap into the idea of ‘digital feudalism’ and a speculation in the discussion on the similarities between portability of phone numbers and portability (between worlds) of virtual world characters and creations…
The third paper by Faith Lawrence (Southampton) crossed over with the Edinburgh pair in a concern with the role of hosts/owners and their relationship with the community – in this case, the topic was Livejournal and the controversial attempts by the admins to crack down on certain content (laughably overbroad in some cases, with highly inconsistent application of terms of service).
Session 2: CyberCrime: All Your Secrets Are Belong To Us
The first paper was co-written by a holy trinity consisting of Lilian Edwards (Southampton), Chris Marsden (Essex) and Ian Brown (Oxford); the introductory discussion on facebook and cyberstalking led to a fairly serious examination of software defaults, code theory and consumer and privacy law – no mean feat in fifteen minutes. Andrea Matwyshwn (Pennsylvania) (and I must again mention her amazing technopolity.org resource) spoke about ‘black collar crime’, with a focus on international law solutions and the potential difficulties inherent in future approaches. Equally scary was the discussion by Judith Rauhofer (Central Lancashire / Liverpool John Moore) on threats not from black criminals but instead governments – of course, privacy and the fact that the culture of individual privacy and associated expectations is changing.
Session 3: I Can Has Personal Data? Kthxbye
Judith’s paper was a good bridge to an entire session about privacy; kicking off with Rebecca Wong (Nottingham Trent) and Joseph Savarimithu (Liverpool), with Rebecca doing the talking and driving straight into Lindqvist, made even more useful by a discussion of the national laws and indeed the changes made in some jurisdictions post-Lindqvist (the case is the infamous one, discussed here, of apparently private information on a gossipy local website being considered as covered under article 3(2) of the Data Protection Directive. Federica Casarosa (EUI) was also concerned with the Directive, and in particular the discussions of the Article 29 WOrking Party on Google’s activities. Finally, Gayle Trigg (Wragge & Co, yes – lawyers!) made the link between personal data and Web 2.0, discussing the ups and downs of ‘push’ media and social networking, and reinforcing the interesting points from earlier on how contract-based this all is…
Session 4: Future’s So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades: Technology Meets Law, News at 10
Well, the first paper here (straight out of lunch) was my own net neutrality presentation, and there’s more about that over here. Burkhard Shafer, Wiebke Abel and Gerald Shaefer chipped in with a very mind-bending look (and I mean that in a good way!) at how artificially intelligent ‘agents’ could be regulated (in particular in the context of war/conflict), where the relationship between human and agent was either non-cooperative or asymmetrical (as distinct from easier co-operative symmetrical arrangements, e.g. in commercial situations). Thomas Otter (moved up from a later scheduled session for logistical reasons) looks at software design and its relationship with legislation and regulation, and in this presentation focused on accessibility, generally and in relation to Web 2.0. It was a very persuasive presentation but also realistic, and I think it made quite an impression on us, particularly in relation to enthusiastic proclamations on the liberating value of technology – yes, there are examples of good, but also of new barriers, and Thomas discussed and explained both.
Session 5: Extreme IP
And this was lots of fun – beware, those of you who think that IP and extreme cannot go together. Caroline Wilson (Southampton) started off with a look at trademarks in virtual worlds, including a helpful overview of the development of virtual worlds, and looking not just at what you would expect (how do trademarks fare virtually) but at new opportunities (virtual representation, especially with emerging technologies), of things like senses and smells – and wondering whether the trademark register could be ‘in’ a virtual world…from that, we moved from the virtual parlour into the tattoo parlour, with Jordan Hatcher‘s discussion of copyright and tattoos. This was lots of fun (with lots of pictures and hypotheticals) as well as thoroughly researched, and has already appeared on BoingBoing, so I’ll ditch my notes on that and let you go there. The third and final paper in this session came from Fernando Barrio (London Met), discussing the phenomenon of patent trolling, including further discussion of terms of service and ‘patent peace clauses’ of dubious enforceability. Hmmm. This was one of the most worrying papers, in that patent bullying is not necessarily as eye-catching as copyright, but the iceberg is very deep below the water line.
Session 6: Access All Areas – A2K/CC/E-democracy
Our final session was a real mixed bag, covering everything from music to monks to lunatics. Richard Jones (Liverpool John Moore), complete with a sound sample, delivered a paper on folk music and Creative Commons – and what’s more, he is in the middle of some empirical work on copyright and folk musicians – the very best of luck to them, and I look forward to seeing the results. Ray Corrigan (OU) drew on tradition too, being in particular the Colmcille story (“to every cow its calf, to every book its child-book (copy)”) – I’m well-familiar with the story and with some of the sources but Ray’s research was thorough and he clearly had a great time digging into the sources and the legal arguments. Go read the paper, and next time you see some copyright zealot relying on a fifth-hand recollection of the legend, send them a copy. And then, an appropriate ending came by way of Simon Deane-John’s review of new applications and platforms and how they interact with politics and decision-making, tying up quite a few loose ends from the day’s proceedings.