FPFcast: Can Intellectual Property Law Inform Privacy? A discussion with Eric Goldman


April 25, 2014: Can Intellectual Property law inform Privacy? A discussion with Eric Goldman

In this podcast, FPF Legal and Policy Joe Newman talks with Eric Goldman, Professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, Director of the High Tech Law Institute, and a new member of FPF’s Advisory Board. Professor Goldman discusses the problems that arise when trying to incorporate property law concepts within privacy debates.

It’s no surprise that personal information today is a hot commodity, bought and sold by thousands of entities daily. Companies like Covata and Personal tell consumers they can “Own their data,” suggesting that personal information be characterized as property. Goldman discusses the history of privacy thinking with respect to the idea of “data” as “property” and the general reluctance of privacy thinkers to export intellectual property law concepts to cover privacy. General cynicism about the effectiveness of IP law in the 1990s made many fear that once data was “propertized,” companies “would just find easier ways of grabbing that data,” at the expense of consumers. “People’s norms about property get really weird,” Goldman notes. “A lot of the time the label ‘property’ actually distorts the conversation in fundamental and often unhelpful ways.”