A Tech/Law Talk Show designed to cover modern technology and Internet issues with host Dave Levine.


Memory of my dear friend and colleague, Michael Rich

Elon Law lost a tremendous teacher, scholar, mentor, and colleague this past Wednesday, Prof. Michael Rich. Mike’s commitment to Elon, and particularly the work that he did in service of its new legal education program — after his cancer diagnosis — was a marvel of professionalism and dedication. More broadly, the legal community has lost a scholar of immense talent, whose foundational work in policing and algorithmic computing will inform future scholarship and policy for years. That he was also beloved by his students demonstrates that he was truly the ideal law professor and colleague. Our world is much poorer in Mike’s absence.

On a personal note, Mike was a close colleague and even closer friend. His integrity, humor, candor, and enormous insight will be missed dearly. Even though Mike is no longer with us, his character and integrity will inspire me for the rest of my days, and I consider myself fortunate to have known and worked closely with him at Elon these past several years.

For the benefit of Hearsay Culture listeners and for those who didn’t know his work, I’m reposting my August 2013 Hearsay Culture interview with Mike, and will re-air it next Friday at 2pm pacific on KZSU. At that time, Mike was just getting into the policing and algorithmic computing issues about which he later became known. Much more than just having a dear and close friend and colleague on the show, Mike’s work deserved (and deserves) significant attention. Mike was, naturally, a terrific guest, and I loved having him on the show. Mike’s groundbreaking work can be found on Google Scholar.

My thoughts and prayers are with Mike’s wonderful wife Amy Minardo, as well as Mike and Amy’s beautiful daughters. May Mike’s memory be a blessing to all.

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Show # 259 — Prof. Shannon Vallor, author of Technology and the Virtues — posted

As you may have noticed (even in the barrage of election coverage), I’ve been silent since the end of July. The reason is rather simple: since July, I’ve taught five classes (Contracts, Intellectual Property Survey, two sections of Internet Law, and a new course (for me), Employment Discrimination Law). To do that well, along with being a present husband and father to my two young sons, and maintain forward motion with my scholarship, Hearsay Culture gives way. I don’t like that effect, but its unavoidable so long as I continue to do the show gratis (which is not a complaint; its a reality).

So, on this momentous and nerve-wracking Election Day afternoon, I’m pleased to post one new show, Show # 259, September 16, my interview with the amazing Prof. Shannon Vallor of Santa Clara University, author of Technology and the Virtues: A Philosophical Guide to a Future Worth Wanting. Shannon has written an exceptionally important and unique work focusing on what personal virtues should guide our integration of new technologies into society. Defining the contours of what she calls “technonormal virtues,” Shannon calls on informed citizens to become “moral experts” in a collective effort to create “a future worth wanting” (or, even better, demand for “useful tools that do not debilitate us.”) Because Shannon writes about philosophy and virtue as an applicable construct rather than an abstraction, her book should be required reading for anyone seeking better understanding of how we might achieve the best social and moral results from our technological advancements.

I very much enjoyed the interview, and hope that you find it valuable and gripping. Indeed, with so much left to discuss, look for part two of the interview in December!

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Show # 258 — Prof. Paul Ringel on commercializing childhood — posted

I’m pleased to post show # 258, June 24, my interview with Prof. Paul Ringel of High Point University, author of Commercializing Childhood. Paul’s study may seem superficially beyond Hearsay Culture’s scope, until one considers the role of marketing, especially to children, on the Internet. Paul’s book frames part of this heretofore-unknown marketing history by focusing on early American efforts to create children’s magazines. As a historian, Paul explores the motivations for creating such magazines, as well as their successes. In our interview, we discussed this history and how we might think about today’s technologically-enhanced efforts to capture children’s eyeballs. I greatly enjoyed this discussion with my friend Paul, and hope that you find it enlightening!

Postscript: Look for the Fall 2016 quarter schedule in August, which begins in September 2016. Have a great rest of the summer!

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Show # 257 — Prof. Neil Netanel on Jewish copyright law — posted

I’m pleased to post show # 257, June 17, my interview with Prof. Neil Netanel of UCLA Law, author of From Maimonides to Microsoft: The Jewish Law of Copyright Since the Birth of Print. I’ve had occasion to discuss Jewish intellectual property law in the past, and always seize the opportunity when it arises. Neil offers such an opportunity, as he’s written a thoroughly researched and annotated history of the Jewish copyright law and theory. As we discussed, this was a particular challenge since the word “copyright” is largely absent from Jewish writing. Drawing on extensive Jewish law and commentary over centuries, Neil articulates the many facets of Jewish copyright theory that capture elements of modern copyright theoretical bases like personhood and Lockean labor. By examining not just the theory but the types of disputes that arose in Rabbinical courts, as well as the relationship between Jewish jurists and their non-Jewish counterparts, we had a unique and fascinating discussion. Having a prolific and thoughtful scholar on the show is always an honor; thus, I hope that you enjoy this in-depth conversation with one of intellectual property law’s scholarly giants!

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Show # 256 — Francesca Musiani, Profs. Derrick Cogburn and Laura DeNardis — on Internet infrastructure, posted

It’s been a busy summer, having (a) taught an exciting (and sadly timely) new course on Employment Discrimination Law:

and taking the stage (really).

As a result, Hearsay Culture has taken a bit of a summer hiatus; but, I have a few more shows from the past two months to post. Here’s the first, show # 256, May 20, my interview with Francesca Musiani of the French National Centre for Scientific Research, Profs. Derrick L. Cogburn of American University’s School of International Service (SIS), and Laura DeNardis of American University’s School of Communication, co-editors of The Turn to Infrastructure in Internet Governance. Francesca, Derrick and returning guest Laura, along with co-editor Nanette Levinson, have gathered leading scholars and thinkers on the state of Internet operations. This area is critically important as the Internet moves into governance by international, rather than American, organizations. Particularly given the chaotic state of our public discourse, it is essential for policymakers to understand the various forces that operate to expand and constrain the Internet. In our discussion, we covered a range of topics, from Internet governance politics to whether international bodies can take on this complex task. I greatly enjoyed this wide-ranging discussion!

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Show # 255 — Prof. Michael Schudson on the rise of the “right to know” — posted

I’m pleased to post Show # 255, May 13, my interview with Prof. Michael Schudson of the Columbia School of Journalism, author of The Rise of the Right to Know: Politics and the Culture of Transparency, 1945–1975. Michael is one of the leading media historians writing today, whose many books have helped shape the media studies field. His focus in this work is the mid-century struggle to offer public access to government operations despite the many traditions and practices that pushed against such openness. The post-war era was marked by many ebbs and tides of openness, of which the passing of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was most well-known. In our discussion, we focused on FOIA and other open government laws, its challenges and the impact of this history on our understanding of the Wikileaks-Snowden era. I was thrilled to have Michael on the show, and hope that you find the discussion enlightening.

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Tenth Anniversary Show, #254 with Prof. Lawrence Lessig, posted!

For your Memorial Day weekend, I’m am amazed and humbled to post Hearsay Culture’s tenth anniversary show, # 254, recorded on April 26 and aired on KZSU on May 6, 2016, with Prof. Lawrence Lessig of Harvard University, reflecting on the past 10 years of Internet law and policy, and his current efforts to fix democracy. On a day when he was scheduled to fly to Washington, DC to pay a fine for having been arrested on Capitol Hill protesting the state of our campaign finance laws, Larry came to Elon Law and chatted with me for an hour in front of a live audience.

Larry and me before the interview!
Larry and me hamming it up before the interview. Photo credit: Eric Townsend

We discussed a range of topics, including Larry’s assessment of his role in the Eldred copyright duration decision, his current proposals for addressing the crippling effects of our campaign finance laws on policymaking, his Presidential run, the parallels between the fix democracy movement and civil rights movement, and whether he considers himself an idealist. Along the way, Larry also shared advice both for parents and for aspiring lawyers; advice that has stuck with me, as a law professor with two young sons, since. Suffice to say, I’m grateful for Larry’s return to the show, and for taking time out of an unusually busy day to celebrate Hearsay Culture’s tenth anniversary!

Moreover, I should note that I thank lots of folks and entities during the interview, without whom Hearsay Culture would not be what it is today (starting with my wonderful listeners). I am grateful for your support, encouragement and collegiality, and look forward to another 10 (!) years! Enjoy; I dedicate this show to you!

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Show # 253 — Prof. Pam Samuelson on the Authors Alliance — posted

I’m pleased to post Show # 253, April 29, my interview with Prof. Pam Samuelson of UC Berkeley School of Law and School of Information, on the Authors Alliance. Pam needs little introduction to Hearsay Culture listeners given her position as one of the leading intellectual property law scholars of the last 30 years. In this interview, we focused on Pam’s work for the Authors Alliance, founded by Pam in 2014 to promote “authorship for the public good by supporting authors who write to be read.” Given the continued pitched battles around the contours of United States copyright law, the timing of our discussion could not have been better. In a candid and broad interview, we discussed the recent Google Book Search fair use decision, the Authors Alliance’s relationship with the Authors Guild, and the role for academics in policy debate, among other topics. I was thrilled to have Pam on the show, and look forward to her future return!

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Hearsay Culture now available in the Tunein app!

I’ve been reticent to add Hearsay Culture to ad-based content providers (because they place advertisements in and around the show). Nonetheless, in the interest of reaching the widest possible audience under current budget circumstances (did I mention that the Hearsay Culture budget has always been zero dollars, and financed completely out-of-pocket?), Hearsay Culture is now available on Tunein. So, I hope that listeners find this useful (and no, I am not receiving any compensation from Tunein!)

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Show # 252 — Prof. Ben Peters on the history of the failed Soviet Internet — posted

Get ready for one of my common (but not yet patented — too abstract?) barrages of new shows over the next few days. That’s what weekends are for — catching up on Hearsay Culture postings! So,to quote XTC — appropriately in this insane election cycle and as one bulwark against the ignorance enveloping our political process — let’s begin!

I’m pleased to post the first of the Spring 2016 shows, Show #252 from April 22, with Prof. Ben Peters of the University of Tulsa, author of How Not to Network a Nation: The Uneasy History of the Soviet Internet.

Ben has written a fascinating, exquisitely written and thoroughly researched and contextualized history of the repeated failures over 30+ years to create a Soviet Internet. Not merely a history, Ben’s analysis and writing shines when he places the ebbs and tides of its development in the broader socio-political environment in which a few brave pioneers were operating. That the Soviet Internet never developed reveals far more about the nature of a closed but competitive administrative state than it does about the genius underlying failed efforts. In our interview, we discussed both the intuitive and counter-intuitive modern insights borne from Ben’s meticulous writing and research.

Thanks to Hearsay Culture repeat guest Frank Pasquale for affording the opportunity to meet Ben at Yale Law’s extraordinary Unlocking the Black Box conference in April, and I hope that all of you enjoy the interview as much as I did!

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