In the News

Jennifer Urban in the news:

Why Twitter gave a woman’s home address to her cyberstalkers

Jennifer Urban quoted in The Washington Post, June 8, 2016

“No system will ever be able to stop all abuse,” said Jennifer Urban … who studies the DMCA. “But it should take into account this kind of abuse and improve procedures to avoid it. It’s a challenge and a balance, because as a matter of legal process, people in a dispute need to be able to know who their accusers are and what the claims are. But agents, proxies, etc. are possibilities if done correctly.”

Politicing the pirates: 30% of takedown requests are questionable (study)

Jennifer Urban quoted in Variety, March 29, 2016

“There are a lot of issues about a lack of sophistication regarding copyright law and when it is appropriate to ask for things to be taken down. Some people are misusing the takedown process because it’s super-cheap,” Urban notes.

Blame the robots for copyright notice dysfunction

Jennifer Urban quoted on, March 29, 2016

“There is a lack of transparency in the system, which is based on private notices that go to private parties and are dealt with outside of the public dispute system,” Urban said. “It’s a black box, and that by itself will always raise questions about what the public effect of the system is.”

How we’re unwittingly letting robots censor the Web

Jennifer Urban, Brianna Schofield and Joe Karaganis study cited in The Washington Post, March 29, 2016

Karaganis, Urban and Schofield find that the vast majority of all sites still use humans to do this sort of processing. But among large social networks, search engines and file-hosts—in other words, the ones that get the most complaints—it’s increasingly common to rely on automated triage-and-escalation systems, similar to the ones used by third-party rights-enforcement organizations.

As world crowds in, cities become digital laboratories

Jennifer Urban interviewed by WSJ 2050, Dec. 11, 2015

“There is great promise in these interconnected systems, but there are genuine security and privacy risks,” says Jennifer Urban.

Two law professors’ plan to downsize patent litigation

Jennifer Urban and Jason Schultz cited in Bloomberg BNA, May 8, 2015

“We want them to put their money where their mouth is,” said Schultz, in an interview. To do this, he and Urban have proposed the Defensive Patent License:  It creates a legal framework for a network of companies that want to share their patents, and have agreed not to initiate patent lawsuits.

The moral hazards and legal conundrums of our robot-filled future

Jennifer Urban quoted in Wired, July 17, 2014

“We’re poised at the cusp of really being surrounded by robots in daily life,” said Jennifer Urban, the Berkeley law professor who moderated the panel. That’s why now is the time to start grappling with these questions, Urban says. A future filled with robots may be inevitable, but we still have an opportunity to shape it.

Supreme Court debates police permission to search cell phones

Jennifer Urban quoted in CNET, April 29, 2014

“When you’re talking about a contemporary smartphone, you’re not talking about a phone. You’re talking about a computer,” said Urban. “Because data on the phone is so rich, the reasonable burden on the police may look more like the burden of obtaining information on a computer in a house.”

Google’s mass copying of copyrighted works judged ‘fair use’

Jennifer Urban quoted in Internet Law & Strategy, December 1, 2013 (registration required)

“I think it’s an absolutely terrific decision,” Urban says. “It’s a careful fair use decision that explains why new technologies and the ability to digitize physical texts like books supports the societal goals of copyright law.”

Experts on the NSA’s history of abuses: There they go again

Jennifer Urban’s Samuelson Clinic brief cited in The Atlantic, November 21, 2013

“Recent surveillance activities, and the executive’s justifications for them, share core features with surveillance programs that operated from the 1930s into the 1970s,” they write. “These features include: expansion of surveillance programs beyond their original purpose; a tendency to collect as much information as possible, with the result that surveillance expands as technology advances; and a preoccupation with secrecy that thwarts an effective evaluation of these programs’ effectiveness or legality.”

Finding Google Books ‘transformative,’ judge rejects lawsuit

Jennifer Urban quoted in New York Law Journal, (registration required) Nov. 15, 2013

Jennifer Urban of the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic … was part of a team of lawyers who filed for amicus curiae, a group of digital humanities and law scholars, in favor of a finding of fair use. “I think it’s an absolutely terrific decision,” Urban said. “It’s a careful fair use decision that explains why new technologies and the ability to digitize physical texts like books supports the societal goals of copyright law.”

Innovators, entrepreneurs and funds file amicus in support of Google in Oracle v. Google appeal

Jennifer Urban and Samuelson Clinic brief cited in Groklaw, May 31, 2013

Amici’s shared interest in this case is in preserving the deliberate balance Congress and the courts have established for software copyright, including longstanding limits on copyrightability that enable innovation by fostering interoperability and competition.

Nuclear deterrence for patents: let’s create a network of defensive patents

Jennifer Urban writes for Wired, February 21, 2013

I propose (with Jason Schultz) that innovators should—even must—opt back in to the patent system if they wish to protect themselves from the growing threats patents pose…. Why? Because if all innovators obtain patents that they commit to keeping for defensive purposes only—linking them together into a defensive network—we can take the patent system as it exists today and use it to create a bulwark against its own worst features.

Naperville woman faces down smart power meters

Jennifer Urban quoted in Chicago Tribune, February 14, 2013

Meter readings taken at 15-minute intervals can provide a wealth of information, such as when people are home, go to bed or use their large-screen TV, said Jennifer Urban, co-director of the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law.

Mobile phone users sorely mistaken about how much privacy they have

Christopher Hoofnagle, Jennifer Urban, and Su Li’s report cited in Ars Technica, July 12, 2012

A new study from the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology asked 1,200 households several straightforward questions about what level of privacy they think they have when using a cell phone, and what information is and is not OK for companies to track and store. The majority thinks they have far more privacy than they do, and are unequivocally opposed to some of the most common forms of data collection.
This story also appeared in Boing Boing.

“Defensive Patent License” created to protect innovators from trolls

Jason Schultz and Jennifer Urban quoted in Ars Technica, June 12, 2012

“The idea is this:  If you want to be part of this network of defensive patent people, you are committing that all of your patents, every single thing you’ve done, will be available royalty-free to anyone who wants to take a license, if they commit to only practice defensive patent licensing,” Schultz said today in Boston at the Usenix conference on cyberlaw issues.

Urban notes in her blog post that both Twitter’s pledge and the DPL are “a private response to a broken patent system,” but “unless and until Congress or the courts can improve things, such private solutions may be our best options to stem the rising tide of patent attacks.”
This story appeared in a number of sources including The Verge, BGR, Techdirt, Intellectual Asset Management magazine, and InfoWorld.

Serving a public that knows how to copy: orphan works and mass digitization

Pamela Samuelson, Jennifer Urban, Molly van Houweling, Jason Schultz cited in Publishers Weekly, April 14, 2012

-The UC Berkeley Center for Law and Technology (BCLT) is among the most eminent study centers for intellectual property (IP) law. Coordinated by Professor Pamela Samuelson, this last week it pulled together approximately 200 highly accomplished and well-spoken legal scholars, practitioners and librarians in a small conference on orphan works, “Orphan Works and Mass Digitization.”

-Jennifer Urban of BCLT cautioned that we need to evaluate the benefits and costs of diligent search requirements, a likely component of orphan works legislation, against the costs of collective licensing, which is more of a blunt end of the rights hammer, but would obviate the need for individualized search.

-Molly van Houweling observed that we need systems … that actively reward instead of punish efforts that produce information helping to re-unite rightsholders with their works.

-Jason Schultz noted in twitter that the key question was how people and their institutions can be part of this world, and learn to serve publics who know how to copy.

Shining light into black boxes

Jennifer Urban writes for Science, April 13, 2012

Despite increasing reliance on computing in every domain of scientific endeavor, the computer source code critical to understanding and evaluating computer programs is commonly withheld, effectively rendering these programs “black boxes” in the research work flow.

Shining light into black boxes

Jennifer Urban writes for Science, April 13, 2012

Despite increasing reliance on computing in every domain of scientific endeavor, the computer source code critical to understanding and evaluating computer programs is commonly withheld, effectively rendering these programs “black boxes” in the research work flow.

Jennifer Urban Supports Adoption of Smart-Meter Privacy Rules

Washington Internet Daily, July 29, 2011 by Louis Trager (registration required; go to H:\Law School in the News\In the News 2011\News Clips for article)

“I think it’s very good news for innovation and for consumers in California,” said Jennifer Urban, a University of California-Berkeley law professor who represented the center in the proceeding. The commission reached “a very nuanced and careful decision,” she said.

Jennifer Urban Explains Ambiguity of ‘Fair Use’

San Francisco Chronicle, March 20, 2011 by John Diaz

Jennifer Urban, a UC Berkeley law professor who studies fair-use issues, said courts tend to use two tests in determining fair use. One, whether the purpose of the inclusion of copyrighted material was to simply replicate it or “transform it” for another purpose – such as commentary. Two, “did you use more than you needed?”