Select research and publications by core and affiliated faculty and researchers in intellectual property:

HOT OFF THE PRESS!

In Industry Unbound, Waldman Exposes how Big Tech Systematically Undermines Our Privacy
There are many new privacy laws, tens of thousands of privacy professionals and new privacy offices all tasked with protecting our privacy from inside the information industry. So why does our privacy seem more out of reach than ever? Sunglasses that spy, in-home assistants that listen to everything, websites that track our every move online. These aren’t accidents. The system is working just as its designed to work. In Industry Unbound: The Inside Story of Privacy, Data, and Corporate Power (Cambridge University Press, 2021), Professor Ari Ezra Waldman exposes exactly how the tech industry conducts its ongoing crusade to undermine our privacy, undermine privacy law and subjugate us all in the process. Based on nearly four years of research (interviews, observations, embedded fieldwork and reviews of confidential documents), Industry Unbound shows that tech companies do not just lobby against privacy law, they also manipulate how we, their employees and policymakers think about privacy, how their engineers design new technologies and how their privacy professionals — regardless of their good intentions — are manipulated and co-opted into serving industry’s surveillance goals. While many claim that privacy law is getting stronger, Industry Unbound shows otherwise: Recent changes in privacy laws are exactly the kinds of changes that corporations want, with even those who consider themselves privacy advocates often unknowingly complicit in data extraction.

 

Professor Swanson Contributes Chapter to Seminal IP Book
50 ObjectsCorsets are at the heart of a new chapter penned by Northeastern Law faculty member Kara Swanson  in the provocative new book, A History of Intellectual Property in 50 Objects (Cambridge University Press, 2019), edited by Claudy Op den Kamp and Dan Hunter. The 50 objects — examined in chapters by leading experts in fields including law, history, science, media and even horticulture, among others — not only demonstrate the significance of intellectual property systems, but also show how IP has developed and how it has influenced our experiences of everyday objects. Each story provides a glimpse into examples of how innovations, great and small, offer a unique lens on our past, present and future.

In her chapter on the corset, Swanson takes readers back two centuries, to a time when women and girls throughout the United States reached for one piece of technology first thing in the morning and kept it with them all day long—the corset. It emphasized (or depending on the whims of fashion, deemphasized), bust, waist and hips in ways intended to accentuate differences between male and female. Today, the corset still fascinates, an emblem of femininity that appears on fashion runways and the concert stage. Less visible are the ways the corset as an object of intellectual property has exposed the masculine assumptions in our understanding of technology, patents and law.

Professor Hartzog Calls for Reframing Privacy Law in New Book, Privacy’s Blueprint 

Privacy's BlueprintEvery day, internet users interact with technologies designed to undermine their privacy. Social media apps, surveillance technologies and the internet of things are all built in ways that make it hard to guard personal information. And the law says this is okay because it is up to users to protect themselves — even when the odds are deliberately stacked against them. In Privacy’s Blueprint: The Battle to Control the Design of New Technologies, Professor Woodrow Hartzog pushes back against this state of affairs, arguing that the law should require software and hardware makers to respect privacy in the design of their products.