Monday, September 29, 2008


I spent a couple of days last week at one of my favorite workshops, GikIII, organised this year by Ian Brown at the Oxford Internet Institute, Lilian Edwards, now of Sheffield University and Andres Guadamuz and the good folk at SCRIPT Law and Technology Centre at the University of Edinburgh.

I had the honour of closing the first day with the tale of Fighter Command's information system, immediately in the wake of the perennially impossibly entertaining Fernando Barrio. Just to make my task of being the final barrier between a bunch of geeks and lawyers and their drink even more precarious, Fernando had been contemplating the possibility of 'Love, sex and rape in a world of autonomous robots.'

My favorite papers in the ever eclectic and stimulating mix over the two days were Burkhard Schafer's The “Eyre Affair” revisited - Jasper Fforde and the ontological foundations of IP in a digital world, (having just discovered Fforde myself earlier this year), Miranda Mowbray's Sherlock Holmes inspired The Fog over the Grimpen Mire: Cloud Computing Services and the Law, and Peter Yu's Legal Transplants in the Digital Age. Though to pick just three does a disservice to all of the presenters at the workshop who, without exception, produced hugely interesting and thought provoking talks.

I could spend the rest of the week on the ideas that came up but sadly day job commitments preclude that possibility. I would just say one thing about Burkhard Schafer's exploration of the possibilities of using logic based AI systems to aid the assessment of copyright infringement in works of fiction. It would appear that neither first order nor second order logic would come anywhere close to being able to determine whether a work infringed the copyright of another. It seems, therefore, that the natural conclusion of his investigations would be that copyright law (and possibly intellectual property law more generally) defies [all?] logic.

Well done to all the participants and a big thank you to everyone involved in the organisation.

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