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Yale ISP "Regulating Search?" Symposium - Dec. 3


Regulating Search?
A Symposium on Search Engines, Law, and Public Policy
December 3, 2005
Yale Law School
New Haven, CT

Search is big business, and search functionality increasingly shapes the
information society. Yet how the law treats search is still up for grabs,
and with it, the power to dominate the next generation of the online
world. How will this potential to wield control affect search engine
companies, their advertisers, their users, or the information they index?
What will search engines look like in the future, and what is the role of
regulators in this emerging market?

The Information Society Project at Yale Law School is proud to present
"Regulating Search?: A Symposium on Search Engines, Law, and Public
Policy," the first academic conference devoted to search engines and the
law.  "Regulating Search?" will take place on December 3, 2005 at Yale Law
School in New Haven, CT.

This event will bring together representatives from the search industry,
government, civil society, and academia to discuss the emerging
intersection of search engines and various forms of regulation.  It is
made possible by the generous support of the Microsoft Corporation,
Google, Inc., and the Knight Foundation.

A distinguished group of experts will map out the terrain of search engine
law & policy in four panels: (1) The Search Space; (2) Search Engines and
Public Regulation; (3) Search Engines and Intellectual Property; and (4)
Search Engines and Individual Rights.  A detailed description of these
four panels is included below and the current list of confirmed speakers
will be available on the conference website.

Registration for the conference and further information are available at

Early Bird registration is $35 for students, $75 for academic and
nonprofit participants, and $165 for corporate and law firm participants.
Early Bird registration ends on Nov. 15.

Regulating Search?

A Symposium on Search Engines, Law, and Public Policy

Panel 1: The Search Space

This panel will review the wide range of what search engines do and their
importance in the information ecosystem. It will survey the pressures
search engines face, the technologies they employ, and the constituencies
they must serve. It will frame the question, to be explored throughout the
day, of whether search is a matter that requires specific regulatory
intervention and a special set of legal rules for its governing. In this
panel, industry participants, computer scientists, and analysts will flag
major trends in search engine technology and try to predict future
developments, with the goal of pointing out those trends that will create
new conflicts and new litigation.

Some questions the panelists may ask include:

* How competitive will the search engine market be in five years?
* Who will be creating the next generation of search innovations: large 
  corporate entities or judgment-proof individuals?
* Will the rise of geography-based search change our assumptions about 
* such questions as privacy, jurisdiction, and censorship?
* What's next in personalized search?
* What's next in decentralized peer-to-peer search?
* Will vertical search upend our intuitions about what a search engine 
* Do search companies think of legal risks when they make development 
* What kinds of services will search merge with?

Panel 2: Search Engines and Public Regulation

This panel will discuss the possibility of direct government regulation of
search functionality. Such regulation might proceed under several
jurisdictional heads (e.g. antitrust, consumer protection, or
telecommunications) with any of a number of possible policy goals. Where
one or a few search engines achieve dominance over a particular aspect of
search, the possibility of such regulation seems more imminent. This panel
will discuss who might regulate search, why, and how.

Some questions the panelists may ask include:
* Do search engines have First Amendment or Takings Clause rights that 
  would preclude certain forms of regulation?
* Should government regulators intervene to make sure that the search 
  market stays competitive?
* Should search engines be subjected to an informational equivalent of 
  common-carrier rules?
* Is there an obligation to provide evenhanded listing of sites? 
  Evenhanded listing of results?
* Should search engines be required to disclose their commercial sponsors? 
* Their algorithms?
* Should consumers be protected from bad search results? From having their 
  search results malevolently altered?
* Does the recent spate of security breaches at database companies portend 
  similar trouble for search companies?
* Should search engines be afraid of anti-spyware legislation? Of 
  anti-spam legislation?

Panel 3: Search Engines and Intellectual Property

This panel will review past and present litigation involving search
engines and claims framed in the legal doctrines of copyright, trademark,
patent, and right of publicity. Whether search engines are innocent
intermediaries, heroic crusaders for open access, or villainous agents of
infringement depends on who you ask--as does the appropriate legal
response. The panel will discuss the ways in which IP law shapes the
landscape of permissible and impermissible searches.

Some questions the panelists may ask include:
* What does the Grokster decision mean for makers of search engines?
* What are the obligations of search engines when responding to searches 
  on trademarked terms?
* What IP rights do and should search engines have available to protect 
  their algorithms and databases?
* What are the obligations of search engines vis-a-vis the copyright 
  claims of the makers of the content they index?
* Do search engines' activities implicate the right of publicity?
* Should search engines be liable for their activities in exposing 
  security holes and spreading data that may include trade secrets?
* What are the possibilities for using search engines to promote 
  authorized use of IP protected content?

Panel 4: Search Engines and Individual Rights

Some say that search engines are engines of free expression; others see 
them as vehicles for hate speech. Some think that search enables 
large-scale intrusion into the privacy of others; others think that the 
search companies themselves are the new surveillers, spying on their 
users; still others see anonymous search as a moral necessity and a real 
possibility. This panel will look at the role of search engines in 
reshaping our experience of basic rights and at the pressures the desire 
to protect those rights place on search.

Some questions the panelists may ask include:
* Should search engines remove content that some find objectionable?
* What kinds of data do search engines collect on the individuals who use 
  them? What kinds should they be allowed to collect?
* Do search engines facilitate stalking and other dangerous activities? If 
  so, what can be done about it?
* How can search engines facilitate the free flow of valuable political 
  and expressive speech?
* In an age when search engines create rankings based on mass opinion and 
  links, what does this technique mean for individual dissent and=20
  personal liberty?
* Do search engines empower individuals by promoting accessibility to 
  their words and thoughts online, or do they only help today's strong  
  media players get stronger?
* Is there a right to search anonymously?
* Is access to search technology a basic human right of access to 

Eddan Katz
Lecturer in Law, Yale Law School
Executive Director, Information Society Project