[Busec] Mon, Dec 12; Wendy Gordon on Software Copyright

Sharon Goldberg goldbe at cs.bu.edu
Thu Dec 8 09:14:05 EST 2016

The next event in our CS/Law series will be on Monday at 12:30.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Barnes, Kaitlin S <ksbarnes at bu.edu>
Date: Thu, Dec 8, 2016 at 8:38 AM
Subject: [cs-talks] Upcoming at Hariri: Mon, Dec 12; Wendy Gordon on Software
To: "cs-talks at cs.bu.edu" <cs-talks at cs.bu.edu>

*Shielding the Computer Industry from Copyright Kudzu*

*Monday, December 12, 2016 1-3pm; lunch & networking at 12:30pm*

*Hariri Institute for Computing*

*111 Cummington Mall, Room 180*

In collaboration with Boston University’s Reliable Information Systems and
Cyber Security Group (RISCS), the Hariri Institute for Computing will
be hosting Professor Wendy Gordon (LAW) as part of a brown bag lunch

*Shielding the Computer Industry from Copyright Kudzu *
*Wendy Gordon Professor of Law, Boston University*

*Abstract*: Throughout its history, copyright law has sought to protect
"expression" but to leave "functional" works to the realm of patent. For
example, a blueprint of a car or machine can be copyrighted, but the
copyright gives no rights against companies that manufacture the machine or
car following the blueprint. Similarly, a sculpted product shape that is
both aesthetic and functional (like a well-designed car or piece of
furniture), can gain copyright protection only to the extent that the
object's aesthetic features can stand on their own as artwork after the
functional elements have been conceptually carved out.

Almost forty years ago, however, Congress decided to give copyright
protection to some computer programs, which are primarily functional. No
one knows quite what to make of a statutory pattern that simultaneously
commands copyright protection for a programmer's "expression" while
demanding that the program's "function" be kept free (if unpatented) for
all to use. The quandary comes to a particularly sharp edge when lock-in
and/or interoperability questions arise.

This talk will address the copyright-patent tension in the context of the
Oracle v Google case, which involves the copyright ability of computer
program interfaces.  I also situate that case, and computer copyright
generally, in respect to other points of collision where copyright meets

*About the Speaker*: Wendy Gordon
<http://www.bu.edu/law/profile/wendy-j-gordon/> is a Professor of Law at
Boston University's School of Law. She has taught at Boston University
since 1993, having taught at Rutgers, Georgetown, University of Michigan
and other schools before arriving here. Her scholarship utilizes economics
as well as ethics and analytic philosophy to understand copyright,
trademark, and related forms of intellectual property. She is probably best
known for her analyses of copyright’s “fair use” doctrine and of John
Locke’s theory of property. She has co-authored two books on the economics
of copyright, published numerous law journal articles, and written book
chapters on copyright issues, free speech, computer copyright, and the fair
use doctrine. The US Supreme Court has three times cited her scholarship.

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Sharon Goldberg
Computer Science, Boston University
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