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Session Summary: Tensions within Law & Technology

Submitted by Keith Robinson

On the afternoon of July 29, several scholars participated in the Tensions within Law & Technology panel.  The panel was moderated by Professor Tabrez Ebrahim.  The participants discussed issues surrounding privacy law, cyber security, and copyright law as well as technologies such as the Internet of Things (“IoT”) and Artificial Intelligence (“AI”).

Artificial Intelligence

In the first portion of the panel, Professor Harry Surden argued that we need to pay more attention to values embedded in legal AI.  Legal AI includes using AI in the administration of the law, compliance of the law, and understanding the law.  Values embedded in these legal systems impact how AI produces outcomes that could possibly produce biased results and have a negative impact on certain social groups.

Professor Keith Robinson discussed how patent law should encourage AI patenting.  Specifically, Professor Robinson argued that patent law’s enablement requirement is equipped to evaluate the patentability of AI inventions.

Data privacy & Cyber Security

The second topic discussed during the panel concerned data privacy and cyber security.  Professor Connie Nichols presented her research on the IoT and privacy.  Specifically, she discussed proposals for federal legislation related to privacy rights implicated by connected consumer devices.  The goal of Professor Nichols proposals is to ensure that transparency and accountability for the way IoT companies collect and use customer data.

Professor Stacy-Ann Elvy discussed her upcoming book, A Commercial Law of Privacy and Security for the Internet of Things.  Professor Elvy explained that the legal framework in both commercial law and privacy law are inadequate to deal with new problems raised by IoT.  Professor Elvy presented several proposals for reform including suggesting that the U.S. draw from data and privacy approaches implemented in the European Union.

Next, Professor Ebrahim presented his recent research examining data breaches through the lens of risk theory.  Professor Ebrahim argued that courts should draw on risk classification research to evaluate liability that arises in data breach events.


The third topic discussed during the panel was copyright law.  Professor Jim Gibson discussed what he argued was the most significant development in copyright law since 2004.  Specifically, whether the DMCA’s requirements regarding the repeat infringer policy play a role in actual liability determinations for copyright infringement.  Specifically, Professor Gibson pointed out that although transitory communications are not subject to notice takedown procedures, they are still subject to the repeat infringer policy under the DMCA.

Finally, Professor Eric Priest presented his work on an empirical project related to DIY artists.  Professor Priest’s project explored whether advancements in technology indeed made it easier for musicians to make and distribute music.  Professor Priest’s findings seemed to suggest the opposite.  Specifically, that technology had not reduced the labor costs associated with making music nor did it substitute for the artistic and musical skill needed to make a commercially successful song.