Brian Carver

Former Assistant Professor


Copyright law, open source and free software, technology and innovation policy


Brian Carver is an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley School of Information. His principal areas of study are copyright, internet law, commons-based peer production, and the Free Access to Law Movement. He has written and spoken about the challenges that new information technologies are posing for public policy as well as the factors that enable online communities to create public goods.

Originally from a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama, Carver studied philosophy, receiving a B.A. from the University of Alabama and an M.A. from the University of California, Irvine. He then taught philosophy at various community colleges in Southern California before receiving his J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall). Carver practiced law as a litigation associate with the Silicon Valley-based Fenwick & West before joining the faculty at UC Berkeley's School of Information. He is a member of the California State Bar.

Carver has written about copyright law's first sale doctrine and open source and free software licensing. He is a co-editor of the fourth edition of Software and Internet Law, a case book used in internet and technology law courses. In 2010 he taught a graduate seminar entitled Commons-based Peer Production and in 2012 he taught the School of Information's first fully online course, Introduction to Information, as part of a University of California-wide online initiative pilot project. He was a member of the Technical Working Group of the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative, a project led by Creative Commons and the Association of Educational Publishers to establish a common vocabulary for describing learning resources and was a member of the OASIS Legal Citation Markup (LegalCiteM) Technical Committee that is developing an open standard for machine-readable tagging of legal citations based upon a formalized conceptual model, vocabulary, metadata definitions, and prescribed syntax.

Carver has led his university classes in the creation and editing of Wikipedia articles since his Spring 2009 Cyberlaw class. His students have now created or contributed to over 200 Wikipedia articles related to Cyberlaw and Intellectual Property law. His Fall 2010 Intellectual Property Law course was part of the Wikimedia Foundation's Education Program pilot project on United States Public Policy and his efforts are now part of Wikipedia's United States Education Program. At the 2011 Wikipedia in Higher Education Summit he spoke as part of a panel on the classroom experience and was presented with "The Perfect System Award" from the Wikimedia Foundation. In 2012 he was selected to be a member of the Wikipedia Education Working Group, a group charged with planning the long-term structure of the Education Program in the United States and Canada. Carver has also published academic work about his experiences assigning students to edit Wikipedia.

Current Research

Proactive Legal Information Retrieval and Filtering

Law and Big Data: Empirical and Data-Centric Techniques for Legal, Judicial, and Administrative Systems

Other Research

In 2013, Brian co-founded a California non-profit, Free Law Project, with former I School student, Michael Lissner (MIMS 2010). The organization seeks to provide free access to primary legal materials, develop legal research tools, and support academic research on legal corpora. Free Law Project sponsors the development of the website,, a searchable, open source, and open access database of over 2.5 million court opinions, and the RECAP browser extensions which save users of the federal PACER system money while enabling them to contribute the documents they purchase to a free online archive of court documents. Brian has spoken at numerous conferences about this work, often describing the organization's chief goal as putting the entirety of U.S. case law online, for the public, for free.

In part due to this work, Michael and Brian were both named to the 2014 Fastcase 50, recognizing the Top 50 Innovators, Visionaries, and Leaders in Law.


J.D., University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall)

M.A. Philosophy, University of California, Irvine

B.A. Philosophy, University of Alabama (Phi Beta Kappa)

Last updated:

January 23, 2017