Information Influx Conference – IViR’s 25th Birthday

In the summer of 2014 IViR celebrated its 25th birthday with the international conference Information Influx.

When IViR set up its research 25 years ago, the digital transition was just starting to gather speed. Since then, our societies have been undergoing enormous changes in the modes of expression, organization and (re)use of information. Traditional roles of producers, intermediaries, users and governments blur and are recast. Information is the central building block of market economies. New ways of creating, disseminating and using it impact the workings of democracy, of science and education, creativity and culture.

Consistent with the central aspects of IViR’s Research Programme, the Information Influx Conference centralized disciplines, regions and institutional perspectives to confront the major challenges of developing the rules that govern the expression, organization and re(use) of information in our society.

Photo: Jeroen Oerlemans


Wednesday 2 July 2014

The conference kicked off on Wednesday with the Information Influx Young Scholars Competition. The following papers were presented by the young scholars.

At the official public opening of the conference on Wednesday afternoon Bernt Hugenholtz (IViR), Louise Gunning-Schepers (UvA Board) and Edgar du Perron (Dean, Law Faculty) all delivered speeches, which were followed by the keynote speech Degrees of Freedom: sketches of a political theory for an age of deep uncertainty and persistent imperfection by Yochai Benkler, Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard Law School, and faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.

Photo: Jeroen Oerlemans

After this keynote speech Harry Halpin received the Information Influx Young Scholars Competition Award for his paper No Safe Haven: the Storage of Data Secrets.

Photo: Jeroen Oerlemans

The public opening ended with a speech by Neelie Kroes (Vice-President of the European Commission), Our Single Market is Crying out for Copyright Reform!

“Happy birthday to you all at the Institute for Information Law.
I would sing you “Happy Birthday”. But technically I think the song is still under copyright — I don’t want to have to pay the royalty.
Today the debate about information, innovation, and intellectual property can be complex, personal, and heated.
Our duty as lawmakers is to find a balance between creators and the justified interests of society. Yet that balance is changing. Transforming technology is changing how people use and re-use information. And disrupting a longstanding legal framework.

Photo: Jeroen Oerlemans

Here’s the video of the official opening of the conference:


Thursday 3 July 2014

On Thursday the conference continued with a full day of presentations and plenary sessions. Deirdre Mulligan (Assistant Professor at the School of Information at UC Berkeley and a Faculty Director at the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology at UC Berkeley School of Law) gave a keynote speech entitled Governance, function and form.

As data and technology to wield it become pervasive, privacy protection must take new forms. Traditional models of governance centered on state actors, and human oversight do not scale to today’s challenges. Drawing from several  research projects Mulligan suggests that focusing on roles and functions, rather than traditional forms and actors, can assist us in leveraging the potential of a range of human and technical actors towards privacy’s protection.

Morning plenary sessions:

  • Tomorrow’s news: bright, mutualized and open?
    As public debate becomes more diversified, crowded, interactive, noisy and technology-dependent than ever before, what survival strategies are being devised for the news as we know it? Are existing expressive and communicative rights, and related duties and responsibilities, fit-for-purpose in increasingly digitized and networked democratic societies? Will tomorrow’s news still be worth tuning into?
    dr. Tarlach McGonagle (Institute for Information Law) (moderator);
    dr. Susanne Nikoltchev (European Audiovisual Observatory);
    Aidan White (Ethical Journalism Network);
    dr. Luís Santos (University of Minho);
    dr. Eugenia Siapera (Dublin City University);
    Gillian Phillips (The Guardian).

See also the panel report by Manon Oostveen and Tarlach McGonagle.

  • Rights in the mix
    Among amateur and professional creators alike there is a manifest need to not only share but also remix existing works. The panel discusses how adequately open content licensing systems support these needs. It also looks to how well this licensing system fits in the wider legal framework.
    prof. Séverine Dusollier (University of Namur) (moderator);
    Paul Keller (Kennisland);
    prof. Daniel Gervais (Vanderbilt Law School);
    prof. Volker Grassmuck (Lüneburg University).
  • Behavioural targeting – If you cannot control it, ban it?
    The discussion about the potential pitfalls of behavioural targeting practices and the problems it may create for users and user rights continues in full force. The growing evidence of the ineffectiveness of the existing informed-consent-approach to regulation can no longer be ignored. Is it time for the regulator to move to more drastic means and ban certain behavioural targeting practices, and if so, which practices?
    prof. Chris Hoofnagle (University of California, Berkeley) (moderator);
    prof. Neil Richards (Washington University);
    Frederik Borgesius (Institute for Information Law);
    prof. Joseph Turow (University of Pennsylvania);
    prof. Mireille Hildebrandt (University of Nijmegen);
    dr. Tal Zarsky (University of Haifa).

Afternoon plenary sessions:

  • Accountability and the public sector data push
    Initiatives to make governments more ‘transparent’ abound. Freedom of information laws are reconfigured to push out ever more information to citizens and businesses. Promises of benefits abound too: better accountability and increased participation, as well as efficiency gains and new business opportunities. Can and should the next generation of freedom of information laws serve both political-democratic objectives and economic ones?
    prof. Mireille van Eechoud (Institute for Information Law) (moderator);
    Chris Taggart (Open Corporates);
    Helen Darbishire (Access Info);
    prof. Deirdre Curtin (University of Amsterdam);
    dr. Ben Worthy (Birkbeck University College London);
    Jonathan Gray (Open Knowledge Foundation / University of London).
  • A new governance model for communications security?
    Today, the vulnerable state of electronic communications security dominates headlines across the globe, while money and power increasingly permeate the policy arena. 2013 has seen no less than five sweeping legislative initiatives in the E.U., while the U.S. seems to trust in the market to deliver. Amidst these diverging approaches, how should communications security be regulated?
    Axel Arnbak (Institute for Information Law) (moderator);
    prof. Deirdre Mulligan (University of California, Berkeley);
    prof. Ian Brown (Oxford University);
    prof. Michel van Eeten (Delft university of technology);
    Amelia Andersdotter (European Parliament);
    Ashkan Soltani (independent researcher).

See also the panel report by Axel Arnbak.

  • Mass-digitization and the conundrum of online access
    Cultural heritage institutions face difficulties providing online access to digitized materials in their collections. This session examined a number of pressing issues, taking a trans-Atlantic perspective. When does digitization in public-private partnerships pose a threat to access to public domain materials? What ways are there to manage rights clearance of copyrighted materials and deal with territoriality?
    prof. Martin Senftleben (VU University Amsterdam) (moderator);
    prof. Pamela Samuelson (University of California, Berkeley);
    dr. Elisabeth Niggemann (Deutsche Nationalbibliothek);
    prof. Martin Kretschmer (Glasgow University).

See also the panel report by Kelly Breemen.

The programme on Thursday ended with a keynote speech by Fred von Lohmann (Google), entitled Copyright as innovation policy.
Copyright has historically been concerned with encouraging commercial cultural production. Thanks to digital technology, however, copyright law today finds itself called upon to take on additional unfamiliar roles, including fostering technological innovation and encouraging amateur creative expression. The talk will suggest some ways that copyright can successfully grow into these new roles.

Friday 4 July 2014

On Friday the conference started off with a keynote speech by José van Dijck, entitled Datafication, dataism and dataveillance.
The popularization of datafication as a neutral paradigm is carried by a widespread belief  and supported by institutional guardians of trust. That notion of trust becomes problematic when it leads to dataveillance by a number of institutions that handle people’s (meta)data. The interlocking of government, business, and academia in the adaptation of this ideology (“dataism”) prompts us to look more critically at the entire ecosystem of connective media.


Morning plenary sessions

  • Legalizing filesharing: an idea whose time has come, or gone?
    Alternative compensation systems are designed to legalize and monetize online copyright restricted acts of distributing and consuming content. Empirical evidence shows that end-users strongly support paying flat-rate fees for the ability to legally download and share content. So what prevents us from introducing such schemes? The group of experts convened debates the future of alternative compensation systems in light of current legal, business and technology trends.
    prof. Bernt Hugenholtz (Institute for Information Law) (moderator);
    prof. Neil Netanel (University of California, Los Angeles);
    prof. Alexander Peukert (University of Frankfurt);
    dr. Philippe Aigrain (Quadrature du Net);
    prof. Séverine Dusollier (University of Namur).
  • United in diversity – The future of the public mission
    Digital technologies and the information economy create fascinating new opportunities but also pose fundamental challenges to the fulfilment of the public mission of the media, public archives and libraries alike. This panel is a step towards establishing a dialogue between the three institutions: to explore the congruence between their missions, and their responses to critical issues such as technological convergence, the changing habits of users, the growing abundance of content and their relationship to new information intermediaries, such as search engines, social networks or content platforms.
    prof. Natali Helberger (Institute for Information Law) (moderator);
    prof. Klaus Schönbach (University of Vienna);
    prof. Frank Huysmans (University of Amsterdam);
    prof. Egbert Dommering (Institute for Information Law);
    Maarten Brinkerink (Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision);
    Richard Burnley (European Broadcasting Union).

See also the panel report by Vicky Breemen.

During the lunchbreak Rob Frieden gave a presentation entitled Net Neutrality: one step beyond.

This was followed by a keynote speech by prof. James Boyle (Duke Law School), Intellectual property: two pasts and a future
Twenty years from now, will our children look up from their digital devices and ask “Daddy, did anyone ever own a book”? In his keynote speech, James Boyle will trace the past lives of intellectual property, the battles fought, the technologies regulated. Can we find hints of the future in the battles of our past? Boyle’s answer is yes, and that answer should give us pause.


Afternoon sessions

  • Big brother is back
    The debate about the pervasive surveillance of the online environment is roaring. Considering what we know now, what better metaphor is there than to conclude that we live in the world of Big Brother? This session will bring together leading thinkers and doers related to power and control in the communication environment, who will provide critical input on the way we think and speak about information freedom and control. Should we aspire to tame Big Brother or should we think differently about the problem?
    Axel Arnbak (Institute for Information Law) (moderator);
    dr. Joris van Hoboken (New York University) (moderator);
    John McGrath (National Theatre of Wales);
    dr. Seda Gürses (New York University);
    Hans de Zwart (Bits of Freedom);
  • Assembly

The conference ended with a speech by prof. Nico van Eijk (Institute for Information Law) and farewell drinks. All the photographs of the conference can be found here.


Coverage of speech by Neelie Kroes:

Media coverage:

Kluwer Copyright Blog: