Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Do you know Oliver Goodenough?

From Filter
Q & A with new Berkman fellow Oliver Goodenough

Q. In your latest paper on why good people steal intellectual property,
what is the key message? Do you view intellectual property infringement
as an ethical issue or a technical one?

The technical and the ethical are inextricably linked. In a world of
difficult copying, a legal standard could be enforced without the
necessity of deeply held ethical buy-in from the general population.
Once copying becomes trivial, then the standard needs that kind of
buy-in, which hasn't occurred.

Q. How do you view intellectual property rights on a cyber platform? How
would you advise entrepreneurs who wish to utilize this online platform
for their business?

Intellectual property rights has a place in the cyber world - not all
things make sense in an open source configuration (of course the reverse
is true as well - IP isn't appropriate in all cases either - that is
what makes the debate so interesting). In advising cyber platform
entrepreneurs, I would urge them to decide on their goals - both as to
society and as to their individual financial return. They should also
make distinctions between those areas where propertization will actually
work - and those where it won't - and plan accordingly. Radiohead's
experiment with distributing their new album through request for
voluntary payment is a very interesting approach to a new idea where the
old property approach wasn't working.

Q. Do you believe that intellectual property and corporate laws that
apply to 3D virtual environments should be governed by a new set of
international laws since that space is free of physical boundaries?

The idea has merit, but there is a chicken and egg problem. There really
isn't an international law-making body at this point - it may need a
wide-spread adoption of 3D virtual environments to create such a body.
See Linden Dollars.

Q. How do you view the phenomena of the rising demand of real-life
lawyers to deal with virtual problems?

As a law professor, it sounds good to me. But they will need training
that is a bit different from the current standard, involving
understanding the general approaches to cooperation, security, property,
etc., and not just a particular legal standard.

Q. Do you know of the game Second Life? If so, could Second Life be used
as a tool in which to practice game theory in relation to law or
business problems?

I do know of Second Life (see the first question), and believe it does
have potential for the kind of "practice" you describe - indeed,
although my direct experience is quite limited, it looks to me as if
variations are in full swing as a natural outgrowth of social
interaction through the web.

Q. Is the hybrid game theory + institutional economics cooperative model
part of what you consider is cultural evolution?

It certainly has application in cultural evolution - the emergence of
cooperative structures can - and often does - occur through cultural
means - see the law. The possibility of making such structures available
through institutions like the law is a major advance in human
productivity. Means of electronic interaction both expand the reach of
these institutions and create new challenges for them.

Q. What is your latest project at the Berkman Center?

I have two projects going - the first is using the insights of cognitive
neuroscience to better understand the limits of intellectual property
approaches to allocating rights in creative and technical innovation;
the second is the exploration of digital institutions - both at the
theoretical level and at the level of legal and societal application.

Q. How does the Berkman Center support your studies? What kind of
improvements/changes do you want to see?

Berkman gives me an intellectual "room of my own" within which to work
and, slightly paradoxically, a vibrant community and network with whom
to work. Both are great assets. Improvements and changes? A less cramped
fellows office.

Q. Do you find it difficult (or necessary) to juggle multiple projects?
How do you keep up with so many issues?

It is a bit difficult - and also necessary. First of all, I used to
practice entertainment law, and the model of my producer clients was
that you had to have 10 projects cooking to get a couple brought to
fruition. Secondly, many of the really interesting problems have to be
solved using a number of different tools and knowledge basis sets - so
my multiple projects are in fact really just different aspects of one or
two central projects, each with a lot of somewhat diverse sub-tasks.
Finally, my experience of Berkman is that most players there are taking
a similar approach.


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