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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 22, 2005

UI Lecture, Symposium Examine Intellectual Property Rights, Restrictions

A semester-long examination at the University of Iowa of issues surrounding intellectual property continues Feb. 24-25 with a lecture on access to biomedical research and a symposium on the interdisciplinary impact of intellectual property law.

On Thursday, Feb. 24, Rebecca Eisenberg, Robert and Barbara Luciano Professor of Law at the University of Michigan, will address, "Is There a Tragedy of the Anticommons in Biomedical Research?" at 7 p.m. in the Richey Ballroom, Iowa Memorial Union. Eisenberg, an Ida Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor, will discuss whether limiting access to scientific research materials by such means as patents and secrecy clauses in contracts creates barriers or otherwise slows down medical research.

A member of the Michigan law faculty since 1984, Eisenberg has played an active role in public policy debates concerning the role of intellectual property in biomedical research, publishing in scientific journals as well as law reviews. She has written and lectured extensively about patent law as applied to biotechnology and the role of intellectual property at the public-private divide in research science.

Eisenberg will also join a group of scholars and professionals who are interested in or impacted by intellectual property law for a daylong symposium, "Intellectual Property: An Interdisciplinary Conversation," on Friday, Feb. 25, from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. in the UI College of Law fourth-floor student lounge.

Keynote speaker Siva Vaidhyanathan, assistant professor of culture and communication at New York University and one of academe's best-known scholars of intellectual property and its role in contemporary culture, will speak on "Critical Information Studies: A Manifesto," starting at about 3:30 p.m. He will focus on the diverse coalition of people -- from lawyers and scientists to librarians and artists - engaged in serious consideration of limitations on the dissemination of "information," in many forms including drug patents, academic journals or scientific research.

Another guest speaker will be Nelson Pavlosky, a 20-year-old Swarthmore College student who was a plaintiff in the 2004 legal case OPG v. Diebold. In 2003, Diebold, Inc., manufacturer of electronic voting machines, began sending out cease-and-desist letters to Internet Service Providers (ISPs), after internal documents indicating flaws in their systems were published on the Internet. The company cited copyright violations under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and demanded that the documents be taken down. Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Stanford Cyberlaw Clinic sued Diebold on behalf of Pavlosky and three other plaintiffs.

UI participants include Nancy Baker, University Librarian; Usha Balakrishnan, director of corporate partnerships; Christina Bohannan professor of law; Paul Greenough, professor of history and of community and behavioral health; Mark D. Janis, professor of law; Kembrew McLeod, assistant professor of communication studies and symposium organizer; Jeff Murray, professor of pediatrics, biology, dentistry and preventative medicine; Alberto Segre, professor of computer science; Merrie Snell, Project on Rhetoric of Inquiry; Pamela Trimpe, curator, UI Museum of Art; and Bruce Wheaton, director of the Technology & Innovation Center.

More information on the symposium, including a complete schedule and list of participants, is available online

Sponsored by the Project on Rhetoric of Inquiry and organized by McLeod, author of "Freedom of Expression: Overzealous Copyright Bozos and Other Enemies of Freedom," the Semester of Intellectual Properties is an effort to engage scholars and professionals from a wide range of disciplines in an ongoing discussion about the impact of intellectual property protections in the 21st century.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011,; Program: Kembrew McLeod, 319-621-4620,