Information Law

You Can Trademark That?  They Can Own What? Who Knew?

There are many reasons we have IP laws – but primary among them is to encourage creative types like artists and inventors to profit from their efforts by way of royalties or exclusive rights.  To encourage those efforts, the intellectual property laws give authors and creators a relative monopoly over something they’ve created – a trademark, an invention, a script, a computer program, etc.  It’s like society is saying “you made it, so you can own it – at least for a while…”

But a natural tension immediately presents itself when we grant these exclusive rights.  Our culture wants to embrace, use and assimilate all that is cutting edge and new without having to ask for permission.  We take – no, we borrow Pharrell Williams’  “Happy” riffs and make them background music to our YouTube® videos of our cats and our dogs.  We expropriate “just a” screen capture from the Godzilla movie and create e-cards or embed them on our Facebook® pages.  Our post-90s, crowd sourced, media-centered sensibility has created this “if it’s out there it must be free” (or “it wants to be free”) ethos … Keep reading

Why or what or who is Lex Indicium?  Roughly translated, and with apologies to the classical scholars who may happen upon this blog, Lex Indicium means “law of information,” or “law of data” in Latin.  In a broad sense, the “law” that applies to data, and/or rights in data or information is what this blog seeks to explore.  In my law practice, I might say that I am an “intellectual property lawyer, who specializes in trademarks, copyrights, and information law.”  But my passion and interest have been drawn to this craft by fundamental questions  – “who owns or should own information—any information, be it text, raw factual data, art, etc?  Should it be free or should it be exploitable and monopolized and monetized?  And which answers lead to the greatest good for society?”
Since I began practicing law almost 20 years ago these questions really have been asked repeatedly in the context of one burgeoning cultural phenomenon known as digital technology—which technology has had one primary (and largely freely available) medium– the internet.  But the questions themselves and the issues that flow from them are ancient, stretching back to ancient times.  This, combined with my own background in … Keep reading