Last Week in Tech Policy #43: The Educational Materials Copyright Debate

(By Lindsay Bombalski, PhD, Colorado Law 2L)

For those not involved in the publication of scientific papers, it may come as a surprise that once a new scientific finding is published in a scientific journal it often becomes the intellectual property of that journal. Access to the article describing the finding is usually available in three ways:

  1. By purchasing an individual or institutional license through the journal;
  2. Purchasing individual articles after reading the abstract through various search engines; or
  3. Finding the article in a version of the publication that is open-access.

Individual licenses often run around $500/annually for access to up to 250 articles in up to 25 journals with the purchase of a scientific membership—for example, though the American Chemical Society. Institutional agreements can run as high as $25,000 per journal. Alternatively, individual articles can be purchased for $32-$60.

For a student researcher at a university that does not receive funding for journal subscriptions, this means a paper with a reference list of 30 citations from the same journal could require on the order of $600 in subscriptions or $960 in individual payments in order to pass a peer-reviewer in the examination prior to publication. For real articles, the cost can be even higher because many more articles need to be accessed to develop the science in a new article. These figures make clear that the cost of scientific literature research—on top of the cost of materials, chemicals, equipment, and measurements devices makes scientific research—can be out of reach.

A new web site called Sci-Hub was created to lower the cost of educational scientific materials. Sci-Hub, in turn, has raised significant debate about open access to scientific materials and related intellectual property issues.

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Last Week in Tech Law & Policy, Vol. 32: Is government hacking a “search” under the Fourth Amendment?

(by Kiki Council, Colorado Law 3L)

Last week’s blog post concerned the ramifications of sponsored and compelled government hacking with the use of backdoor encryption. This week’s post concerns how government hacks of computers using the Tor browser, and whether those hacks are considered a “search” under the Fourth Amendment.

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Last Week in Tech Law & Policy, Vol. 29: The Dangers of “Innocuous” Data

(by Parker Ragland, Colorado Law 2L)

People often hold one of two views on privacy—either it is important to them, or they state, “I have nothing to hide.” While the latter response legitimately expresses fear that privacy laws may be used by wrongdoers to shield themselves from justice, it also reveals a common misconception about privacy: only mistakes in your past can harm your future. Problems associated with data science, and specifically the data-broker industry, are at the core of this misconception.

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Last Week in Tech Policy Vol. 27: Space, the Final Frontier…

(by Savannah Schaefer, Colorado Law 3L)

In policy circles, we spend a lot of time talking about unintended consequences and how new pieces of legislation or regulation balance economic efficiency against other pieces of the public interest. Often, we see aspects of old issues recycled when new technologies and circumstances emerge and must determine whether and to what extent new issues require new treatment.

As we turn to space—the final frontier—and encourage our peers to boldly go where no one has gone before, we must consider just how different extraterrestrial expansion is from continental and what lessons to keep in mind as we launch.

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Last Week in Tech Law and Policy, Vol. 24: Will Your Autonomous Car be Programmed to Kill You?

(by R. Kolton Ray, Colorado Law 2L)

Back to the Future Day—October 1, 2015—was celebrated this past week to commemorate the day that Marty McFly and Doc Brown traveled through time to save Marty’s future son in Back to the Future II. It’s easy to laugh at the zany fashion and technology—i.e., fax machines—but director Robert Zemeckis got a lot right about 2015. For example, Nike will release a pair of self-lacing sneakers next year, and hover boards have become close to a reality. The film even portrayed a current political candidate as a wacky villain.

While we have yet to reach the Back to the Future-style flying cars depicted in the second film, we are very close to the introduction of self-driving cars into our travel ecosystem. Google’s self-driving car has successfully completed 1 million miles and the company is planning to release a model to the general public by 2017. Automotive powerhouses like GM, Ford, Toyota, Daimler-Chrystler and Volkswagen have all partnered with Google, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said that manually-operated cars will be illegal once autonomous cars reach 100% penetration.

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Last Week in Tech Law and Policy, Vol. 17: Do We Want to be Lab Rats?

(by Calli Schroeder, Colorado Law 3L)

Large companies experiment on their users all the time in large and small ways through “product testing.” Changing the format of a homepage or the layout of an app to see if it facilitates easier use or better engagement could constitute an “experiment.”  However, what happens when the experiment is only tangentially related to the product?  And how does this affect our understanding of privacy and informed consent?

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