Posted on February 22, 2008 in Seattle University, Seattle University Law, Social Justice by Brian RoweComments Off

This week Seattle University and Seattle University Law hosted a conference on Globalization & Justice from a critical Interdisciplinary perspective. The Friday keynote speech was not a speech, but instead a thought experiment focused on changing the way we think about scholarship. Francisco Valdes did a great job of engaging the group in thinking about how to democratize social justice as a grass roots community movement.

Here are my notes from his talk:

Background Assumptions:
1. Community is essential for new knowledge (without Community scholarship is hollow and removed from the real)
2. Can we approach Social Justice scholarship without being critical?
3. The processes is ultimately Political
4. Justice needs to be viewed through identities
5. Communities define Identities
6. Diversity produces conflict and possibly trust as communities and identities interact

Thought Experiment:
How can we build a framework to allow the interaction essential to building understanding between communities?

How do we engage the people in a movement when they are tethered to the old system for livelihood?
It is a process of hard work similar to gardening. It takes hands on work in the community that enables people to move away from the system they are tied to. It will not happen overnight, but it can happen.

Francisco Valdes, Professor of Law, earned a B.A. in 1978 from the University of California at Berkeley, a J.D. with honors in 1984 from the University of Florida College of Law, and a J.S.M. in 1991 and a J.S.D. in 1994 from Stanford Law School. Between law school and his graduate law work, he practiced with Miami and San Francisco law firms, and taught as an adjunct professor at Golden Gate Law School. After receiving his J.S.D. from Stanford, he taught at California Western School of Law in San Diego, joining the UM faculty in 1996. He is a leading figure in the LatCrit movement and in gay rights scholarship and is co-chair of LatCrit, Inc. He teaches civil procedure, comparative law, critical race theory, law and sexuality, law and film, and U.S. constitutional law.

Thanks to Margaret Chon for organizing the conference.

Posted on March 8, 2007 in CLE, Free Culture, IP, IPLS, law, NPO, Seattle University, Second Life, Social Justice, video games by Brian RoweComments Off

Last year, before becoming a student at Seattle University, I attended the Intellectual Property Law Society (IPLS) sponsored CLE on the intersection of Antitrust and IP. I was very impressed by the panel of speakers that included Daniel Ravicher of Public Patent and Joe Miller of Lewis and Clark’s Law School who challenged the assumptions put forward by many of the other pro-corporate-interest speakers by adding a voice for Social Justice that included alternative views of IP and the social harms of some of the policies being discussed.

This year I attended the IPLS sponsored CLE on video games and IP law, and was disappointed that the CLE did not allocate time to social justice issues related to the topic at hand. The CLE covered several topics that have a potential social justice impact such as user-owned IP in massive multilayer online games, the rating of video games, and file-sharing via peer to peer networks. I was hopping to see at least one speaker address these issues from a user’s perspective.

Unfortunately, the CLE not only ignored social justice issues but also artificially portrayed one on the most influential online communities for social justice movements, Second Life. Second Life was painted as a shallow chat and cybersex service that has squandered its IP rights by allowing its users to retain copyright on everything they create. This depiction failed to mention of some of the extremely positive aspects of Second Life. Second Life has become an online community for both academics and nonprofits who wish to reach a wider audience. This last year I attended a lecture in Second Life sponsored by Harvard’s Law School as part of their Law in the Court of Public Opinion extensions class. The lecture was free and anyone could register and participate regardless economic standing or geographic location.

On the nonprofit front, Second Life has become a gathering place for organization like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Creative Commons who advocate for users rights online and alternatives to traditional copyright. Their events last year included an interview with the highly esteemed Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner that respectfully challenged some of his proposition in his recent book “Not a Suicide Pact : The Constitution in a Time of National Emergency”. Organizations like UNICEF and Global Kids have reached out to users in Teen Second Life as a vehicle to involve teens in community outreach activism on global and local issues.

I hope next year’s CLE on IP returns to the thoughtful dialogue about social justice that brought me to SU. To help realize this goal I will be starting a chapter of the socially conscious IP student organization Free Culture. If you have interest in helping balance the prospective on IP and Social Justice that Seattle University puts forward, please feel free to contact me, [email protected] or [email protected].

Thank you,

Brian Rowe
1L Seattle University

PS this Letter is in the Public Domain, No copyright has been reserved.