Competition and Information

This seminar examines the legal treatment of information in contexts in which it is used both as a tool of competition and as a means of communication. Broadly speaking, information as a tool of competition implicates intellectual-property and antitrust law. Both bodies of law take a primarily economic approach, with intellectual-property law often granting "owners" of information control over it in order to promote innovation, and antitrust law sometimes placing limits on that control in order to promote competition. At the same time, the First Amendment protects freedom of speech, and thus may prohibit statutory restrictions on the use of information. The course will focus on the potential conflicts created by these different legal objectives.

I co-teach this seminar with Jonathan Sherman of Cahill Gordon & Reindel, who practices in the First Amendment area.

Following is the outline for the Autumn 1999 seminar:

Week     Subject
PART ONE: FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES                                      
1 Property and Other Legal Interests in Information
2 Control over Access to Information
3 Distinguishing Information
PART TWO:
4 Limits on the Creation of Protectable Interests in Information
5 Limits on the Exercise of Property Interests in Information
6 Limits on the Combination of Property Interests in Information
PART THREE:
7 Limits on the Creation of Information Markets
8 Limits on the Use of Information to Persuade
PART FOUR:
9 "Independent" Denials of Access to Information
10 Competitively Motivated Denials of Access to Information as Products
11 Competitively Motivated Denials of Access to Information as Ideas
12 Denials of the Ability to Discover or Communicate Information
13 Information Privacy
14 A Race to the Bottom?