BLS Students Hack the Act

The Brooklyn Law Incubator & Policy (BLIP) Clinic’s first ever NYC Legal Hack-a-thon took place this Sunday. It was a great success with about 260 registrants coming together in person and online to hear lawyers, advocates, and technologists discuss how to address the evolving needs of governments, entrepreneurs, and advocacy groups in today’s technologically convergent world.

The morning session featured two panels and two keynote speakers and a team from Docracy which students used in a Hack the Act competition. The first panel, Gov 2.0: A Primer on Crowdsourced Policymaking and Fostering Civic Engagement through Technology, had Art Chang, Founder & CEO of Tipping Point Partners, Sherwin Siy, Deputy Legal Director and Fellow at Public Knowledge, John Bergmayer, Senior Staff Attorney at Public Knowledge, Jed Alpert, Chief Executive Officer of Mobile Commons, and Benjamin Kallos, Executive Director of the New Roosevelt Initiative and candidate for New York for City Council. The first keynote speaker was Andrew Rasiej, entrepreneur, technology strategist and founder of the Personal Democracy Forum, whose address was titled “From e-Gov to WeGov, The Internet’s New Political Power”.

Hacking the Act: Why Do SOPA/PIPA Matter? was the second panel with Brooklyn Law School Adjunct Professor of Law Lawrence “Lon” A. Jacobs, who was the Chief Legal Officer of News Corporation, technology attorney Amyt Eckstein, artist, designer, scholar and CUNY Associate Professor Michael Mandiberg, and Matt Wood, Policy Director of Free Press. Columbia Law School Professor Tim Wu gave the second keynote address. See below.

The afternoon session had nine workshops run by BLS faculty, staff students and others. They were Hacking Contracts with Docracy; The PriView Project: Hacking an Assessment Standard for Privacy Policies; Crowdsourcing Legal Knowledge; Crowdsourcing the Mayor with WhyNot; The Calyx Institute: Hacking a Model Privacy Policy for ISPs and SaaS; Law Mob NYC: Porn Trolls which discussed how pornography copyright holders have been suing “John Does” for IP address caught downloading their copyrighted material (See Judge Howard R. Lloyd’s recent Order in the case of Hard Drive Productions, LLC v. Does 1-33.) and Crowdsourcing Legal Resources for Nonprofit Missions; Creating a Legal Framework for Socially Responsible Digital Products; Creative Rights Education; and This Legal Hackathon is Being Mapped Here and Now!

At the end of the Hackathon, teams of students agreed to present concepts for ways to improve IP law. Teams will submit their finalized implementation to compete for prizes for the best presentation. First prize is lunch with Bloomberg Executives and second prize is a Kindle Fire. The Huffington Post article Legal Hackathon Challenges Lawyers to Think like Hackers has more on the event.