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Call for abstracts: «Are We Owned? A Multidisciplinary and Comparative Conversation on Intellectual Property in the Algorithmic Society»

I am chuffed! The Modern Law Review is funding a one-day conference to be held in Stirling (IN PERSON!) on Friday 8th October 2021.

Theme: «Are We Owned? A Multidisciplinary and Comparative Conversation on Intellectual Property in the Algorithmic Society»

Intellectual Property (IP) plays a crucial role in allowing uses of new technologies that are detrimental to society and preventing beneficial uses. IP is everywhere and lends itself to monopolise virtually anything. We may think we own ’our’ phone, but it factually belongs to the holders of the copyright on the code running on it, the manufacturers owning its design and the patents on how it works, as well as trademarks on logos, on the way you swipe, etc. What happens when it is no longer just computers and phones to be embedded with software and other IP-protected digital content? In an Internet-of-Things world, these proprietary smart objects are everywhere: in our bedroom, in our bathroom, in our body. Our behaviour becomes heavily restricted by those Terms of Service, Privacy Policies, End-User License Agreements, etc. that cover every aspect of the things we thought we owned. We have become digital tenants, not owning or controlling any object and data around us. To the point that, one can argue, that we no longer own: we are owned (Mulligan 2015; Fairfield 2017).

Thanks to the Modern Law Review grant, there will be no registration fee and the Review has the right of first refusal for papers presented at the conference. Confirmed speakers include Professor Christina Mulligan (Vice Dean of Brooklyn Law School), Professor Marco Ricolfi (Co-Director of the Nexa Center for Internet & Society, University of Turin), Professor Joshua Fairfield (William Donald Bain Family Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University School of Law), Associate Professor Dr Matthew David (Department of Sociology, Durham University), and Amy Thomas (Research Associate at CREATe / University of Glasgow).

We welcome 300-word abstracts on any topic related to IP in the algorithmic society, including:

  • Can AI create art and other copyright materials? Is there anything else beyond the copyright-public domain binary? Is Brexit an opportunity to abandon the “author’s own intellectual creation” originality standard?
  • One of the fundamental principles in IP law is that software “as such” cannot be patented. If every physical object becomes embedded with software, would this mean that every software becomes patentable?
  • A combination of IP rights, contracts, and technological protection measures is allowing companies to ‘own’ our data. Is this justified? How can we counter ‘data dispossession’? Is antitrust the solution?
  • Under the General Data Protection Regulation, data subjects do not have a right to access their personal data if this adversely affects third parties’ IP rights. How will this provision play out in practice?
  • Can a strategy centred on the ‘commons’ and on openness be the solution to the problems of IP in the algorithmic society?

Postcolonial, queer, feminist, posthuman, and critical perspectives are particularly welcome. In order to ensure diversity of speakers, three “widening access” bursaries are available to cover for travel and accommodation costs of colleagues from underrepresented groups (BAME), from remote communities, early career academics (including PhD students), and other colleagues from disadvantaged groups (e.g. precarious workers). Please, do specify in your submission whether you qualify for a bursary.

Deadline for the abstracts: Monday 1st March 2021

Date of the conference: Friday 8th October 2021

Venue: Stirling Court Hotel

Abstracts can be sent to me

Published by guidonld

I am Associate Professor of Intellectual Property Law and Privacy Law at the University of Stirling, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, where I lead the Media Law and Information Technology Law courses. I am an expert in the legal issues of Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, cloud computing, robotics, and blockchain. Holder of a PhD (Unipa), a postdoc (QMUL), and an HEA Fellowship, I have a strong publication and bidding record and my works on Intellectual Property, Data Protection, Information Technology Law, Consumer Protection, and Human Rights have been cited by the EU Court of Justice’s Advocate General, the House of Lords, the European Commission, and the Council of Europe. Outside of the University of Stirling, I am Director of ‘Ital-IoT’ Centre of Multidisciplinary Research on the Internet of Things, Visiting Professor at the University of Macerata, Fellow of the Nexa Center for Internet and Society, Fellow of NINSO Northumbria Internet & Society Research Group, and I serve on the Executive Committee of the Society of Legal Scholars, the oldest and largest society of law academics in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Most of my publications can be downloaded for free on SSRN, ResearchGate,, and LawArXiv.

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