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Lucas Osborn

This chapter analyses intellectual property (IP) law’s digital future, focusing primarily on the emerging technology of three-dimensional (3D) printing. To date, digital technologies (such as music and image encoding and playback) have overwhelmingly impacted copyright law, with legal battles surrounding the piracy of copyrighted music, books and movies dominating the headlines and literature. After a brief introduction to IP law, this chapter will briefly summarize IP law’s digital past because it contains helpful lessons for its digital future. Unlike the past, however, in which copyright law sustained the brunt of digital challenges, IP law’s digital future will present challenges across the IP spectrum. The remainder of the chapter will consider these challenges. Because the subject is vast and space is limited, the chapter will focus the majority of its analysis on 3D printing’s effects on patent law. It will also briefly outline the challenges other IP laws will face and will conclude by providing thoughts about reacting to these challenges.

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Sven H. De Cleyn and Gunter Festel

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Edited by Sven H. De Cleyn and Gunter Festel

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Joel West and Anne Greul

Despite an increasingly digital world, we see a movement towards physical user communities which coexist besides virtual, digital communities. This ‘old-fashioned’ face-to-face interaction within those communities attracts an increasing number of individuals who are unified in their common interest for a certain activity, technology or topic. This chapter focuses on a specific form of physical communities, so-called ‘makerspaces’. All kinds of makers, both hobbyists as well as prospective entrepreneurs, use these local facilities to get access to a broad variety of tools and equipment in order to realize their diverse projects. Seeking to understand this development, we analysed the societal and economic forces that led to a broad dissemination of these makerspaces within different countries and that caused individuals to increasingly leverage these facilities. For that purpose, we conducted an observation- and interview-based field study that included 32 semi-structured interviews with active members and staff from local makerspaces across Southern California. We found that three major themes drive the nature and success of local makerspaces: access to tools, personal locus of control that includes an empowerment of individuals to become independent, and the social interaction among members. Accordingly, local makerspaces provide not only access to tools and equipment, but serve also as a physical platform of social exchange where people with the same interests meet and support each other. Regardless of their long-term success, the impact that local makerspaces have already had on entrepreneurial endeavours and consumers’ attitude towards creating tangible objects cannot be denied.

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Neil M. Richards and Jonathan H. King

In our inevitable big data future, critics and sceptics argue that privacy will have no place. We disagree. When properly understood, privacy rules will be an essential and valuable part of our digital future, especially if we wish to retain the human values on which our political, social and economic institutions have been built. In this chapter we make three simple points. First, we need to think differently about ‘privacy’. Privacy is not merely about keeping secrets, but about the rules we use to regulate information, which is and always has been in intermediate states between totally secret and known to all. Privacy rules are information rules, and in an information society, information rules are inevitable. Second, human values rather than privacy for privacy’s sake should animate our information rules. These must include protections for identity, equality, security and trust. Third, we argue that privacy in our big data future can and must be secured in a variety of ways. Formal legal regulation will be necessary, but so too will ‘soft’ regulation by entities like the Federal Trade Commission, and by the development of richer notions of big data ethics.

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Marc Pilkington

This chapter expounds the main principles behind blockchain technology and some of its cutting-edge applications. We first present the core concepts of the blockchain. Secondly, we discuss a definition put forward by Vitalik Buterin, we sketch out the shift toward hybrid solutions, and we sum up the main features of decentralized crypto-ledger platforms. Thirdly, we show why the blockchain is a disruptive and foundational technology, but we expose the potential risks and drawbacks of public distributed ledgers that account for the shift toward hybrid solutions. Finally, we present a non-exhaustive list of important applications, bearing in mind the most recent developments.

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Marja Soila-Wadman and Lisbeth Svengren Holm

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Paola Pisano, Marco Pironti and Alison Rieple

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Sascha Friesike and Benedikt Fecher

Digital technologies hold great promise for scientific progress. The resulting changes in the academic research landscape have often been dubbed a ‘scientific revolution’. In theory, online tools and the ability to create instant networks around the world could speed up scientific progress immensely. In practice, however, many scientists are hesitant to grasp these possibilities. In this chapter we present three opportunities for research in a digital age. These practices are: collaboration, participation and transparency. We argue that these three build on one another, and that research communities therefore have to go through a step-by-step adoption process. We highlight our argument with examples where this is already the case and show that the adoption of the three practices allows researchers to solve increasingly complex research questions. In the second half of the chapter we explain the challenges of the adoption process and we highlight the possible downsides of a further digitized academic research landscape. We conclude by presenting ways of counteracting these problems, which will enable academia to make the most of the digital possibilities. We also identify the stakeholders who can move the academic system forward and explain how they can help academia to seize the opportunities of digitized research.