ITechLaw SF 2011

I am aware that lawyers are sometimes averse to discussing broader social rather than purely practical context of their practice, but I do feel at the same time that the time is ripe for such discussions. It should be obvious nowadays that the breadth and the depth of the technological changes are likely to cause the copyright system to undergo significant changes. Such impact of digital technologies has caused deep, disruptive changes in the technical possibilities of the way humans learn, create, interact and trade. All this, in turn, lead to the change in business models so deep and profound that new businesses have difficulties in relying on the present legal systems as a guidance for their activities.

Lawyers have often been reactive as a profession; legislators could only fulfill their tasks properly if they were following the business models as they were emerging rather than prescribing them or predicting them. Other professions, such as architects, urban planners or technologists were much freer to predict and plan decades ahead.

I intend to raise the discussion whether the lawyers might also try to work proactively and attempt to predict more of the social future. If lawyers don’t try to do so, it appears, the profession might easily be sidelined by the sheer volume of the social change and be reduced to a mere technical role.

The volume and scope of the changes in our societies is without precedent in human history. Changes are likely, but difficult to predict. How will the role of the law in general develop in the future societies? If we study specifically the changes in the copyright and neighboring rights protection, or the pressures mounting to rethink the entire system of protection of the intangible results of human creativity, we are likely to be able to better grasp the possible overall change of the role of law in the future societies.

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