Brian Carver

Brian Carver
Assistant Professor
Focus: Copyright law, open source and free software, technology and innovation policy

What is the best thing about working at the I School?
I really enjoyed practicing law full-time and embraced being an advocate for my clients, but the I School enables me to pursue the research that interests me most, so now I am my own "client" which is a lot of fun. Getting to pursue those interests in the midst of such smart, warm people makes it even better.

What information issues interest you most?
My primary research interest is in the laws and policies governing technology and information, particularly in understanding the technical, economic, social, and legal frameworks that best promote progress and access to information. Specifically, I am interested in collaborative forms of creativity enabled or enhanced through computer networks and the ways in which law or other factors facilitate or frustrate creativity and innovation. A primary example of collaborative creativity that interests me is open source and free software development. Free software projects such as the Linux kernel or the Apache web server are noted as great success stories but the challenges facing such endeavors are numerous. I seek to understand what works, what doesn’t, and why, and also whether policy-makers and business leaders could or should make adjustments in light of these findings.

Your current research focuses on copyright law, free software, and the regulation of the Internet. How did you become interested in these areas?
Ever since I got an Atari 2600 and could play Pac-Man I have been hooked on technology. I've always followed technology news and it has been clear for a long time that technology advances faster than the law can keep up. It continually creates interesting and important issues, particularly within copyright and innovation policy. When parties focused primarily on their own narrow interests try to skew the ensuing public debates, I try to speak out for a balance that appropriately values the public interest as well.

Before joining the I School, you practiced law in a Silicon Valley-based law firm; how does your experience there influence your work at the I School?
It opens a window into behind-the-scenes incentives that drive the decisions businesses make that are rarely apparent when one reads a judicial opinion resolving some litigation. I often find that the back story sheds interesting light on the issues and so I try to share those insights with students.

Something few people know about you?
In 1995 I only knew one person who knew anything about HTML and he never seemed to have time to teach it to me, so I just sat down and taught myself by repeatedly clicking on "View Page Source" followed by extensive trial and error. Afterwards, I taught everyone who asked me (and some who didn't) how to make their own web pages.

What keeps you up at night?
I keep trying to browse to the end of the internet.

How to Reach Me

Office: 207C South Hall
Office Hours:
Telephone: (510) 643-1469
Twitter: @brianwc