Degrees of Freedom

Yochai Benkler, Harvard Law School

Tue, 04/12/2011
4:30 PM, McCormick Hall 101
Event Category: 






"Law, technology, market structures, organizational processes, cultural practices, and knowledge systems combine to create a context in which we can act in certain ways, and not in others, with greater or lesser effect," states Benkler. "Using Wikileaks, online music distribution, and fan video as case studies, I will outline an approach to analyzing the flows of power and conditions of freedom in society as an integrated systems problem. This approach does not emphasize public over private, or formal over practical dimensions of constraint, but looks at freedom to operate effectively, at belief and preference formation, and at influence over outcomes as the relevant dimensions of freedom."

Benkler is the Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard Law School, and faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Since the 1990s, he has played a part in characterizing the role of information commons and decentralized collaboration to innovation, information production, and freedom in the networked economy and society.

His books include The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom (Yale University Press 2006), which won a number of academic awards. A recent shorter work, "The Idea of Access to Knowledge and the Information Commons: Long-Term Trends and Basic Elements" appears in the book Access to Knowledge in the Age of Intellectual Property (ed. Gaelle Krikorian and Amy Kapczynski, Zone Books 2010). Benkler's socially engaging work won the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Pioneer Award for 2007 and Public Knowledge's IP3 Award in 2006, and is anchored in the realities of markets, having been cited as "perhaps the best work yet about the fast moving, enthusiast-driven Internet" by the Financial Times and named best business book about the future in 2006 by Strategy and Business.

The Bernstein Lecture, started in 2005 through the generosity of Donald S. Bernstein '75, brings a significant legal scholar to campus each year. Previous Bernstein Lecturers have been Judge Richard Posner (2005), Kenneth Roth (2006), Robert C. Post (2007), Cass R. Sunstein (2008), Israeli Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch (2009), and Jack M. Balkin (2010).

This event is free and open to the public.