Clinic Helps Break Down Legal Barriers

Dear Silicon Flatirons Friends and Family,

The Colorado Law Clinical Program, celebrating its 70th anniversary, is a tradition rooted in legal aid and public service. The Samuelson-Glushko Technology Law & Policy Clinic (TLPC) shares in the clinics’ long-standing tradition and commitment to the public interest while giving students hands-on practice opportunities to engage with cutting-edge technology policy issues. Founded with a generous contribution from Pam Samuelson and Bob Glushko, TLPC students take on real advocacy projects with real clients and partners before regulatory agencies, legislatures, and courts focused on telecommunications, intellectual property, privacy, and other technology law and policy issues.

One area of focus for the clinic in the 2017-2018 academic year was assisting underserved communities affected by unintended consequences of copyright law and policy. The TLPC took on four projects aimed at helping a range of constituencies affected by the chilling effects of Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which makes it illegal to break digital locks on copyrighted works without an exemption issued by the office, as part of the U.S. Copyright Office’s triennial review of Section 1201.

  • One project sought renewal of an exemption to help ensure that people who are blind or visually impaired can enable text-to-speech functionality to read ebooks aloud.
  • Another project sought expansion of an exemption to ensure that security researchers can identify vulnerabilities in Internet of Things devices, voting machines, networking equipment, aircraft, and more.
  • Another project, in collaboration with the UC-Irvine Intellectual Property, Arts, and Technology Clinic, sought expansion of an exemption that allows authors, including in academic and fan-fiction contexts, to use short portions of copyrighted works in multimedia ebooks.
  • Another project sought a new exemption to allow disability services offices to add closed captions and audio descriptions to videos in educational contexts for students with disabilities.

Nine TLPC students spent the year interviewing clients and witnesses; researching and drafting petitions, comments, and reply comments; and even testifying at formal hearings before the Copyright Office and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration in Washington, D.C. The TLPC has participated in four separate triennial reviews dating back to 2008.

Silicon Flatirons supports the TLPC and encourages students to gain real-world technology policy experience through participation. The center also supports the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic, which we will feature in an upcoming email.

-Blake Reid
Technology Policy Initiative Director

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