Exploring Governance Strategies for the Public Domain/Commons in Intellectual Property, Wireless Spectrum, and Water Rights

Tags: Content/IP / Spectrum Policy / Technology Policy


In the cases of intellectual property (IP), wireless spectrum, and water, there is a strong policy commitment to developing access to the relevant resource for the public outside the need to license or pay for access. Such “commons” rights raise the critical issue of how to manage a public domain. In the cases of IP, wireless, and water, the strategies for managing the commons differ in interesting ways that merit comparison and analysis. In water, governmental bodies such as the Colorado Water Conservation Board can acquire and manage the public rights (“in stream flows”). In IP, access to copyrights, trademarks, or patents held by rights holders can be used by the public under certain circumstances that are evaluated after-the-fact by judges (e.g., the “fair use” doctrine in copyright and trademark). In wireless spectrum, the FCC has chosen to dedicate certain frequencies or opportunistic access to un-used spectrum (say, underlay rights or “white spaces”) for the public to use without protections against one another. In this conference, we will bring together leaders in academia, government, and practice to explore the themes around managing the commons, culminating in a keynote address by noted law professor Richard Epstein.


  • Phil Weiser
    Hatfield Professor of Law, University of Colorado Law School
  • Britt Banks
    Executive Director, Getches-Wilkinson Center
The Public Domain in Intellectual Property Rights
  • Paul Ohm — Moderator
    Associate Professor of Law, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
  • Kristelia García
    Associate Professor, University of Colorado Law School
  • Steve VanNurden
    President and Chief Executive Officer, Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority
  • Sabrina Stavish
    Shareholder, Sheridan Ross P.C.
  • Gideon Parchomovsky
    Robert G. Fuller, Jr. Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School

Managing The Commons In Wireless Spectrum
  • JP de Vries — Moderator
    Director Emeritus and Distinguished Advisor, Silicon Flatirons
  • Jennifer L. Richter
    Partner, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
  • Charla Rath
    Vice President, Wireless Policy Development, Verizon
  • Rob Alderfer
    Vice President, Technology Policy, CableLabs
  • Dean R. Brenner
    Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, Qualcomm Incorporated

The Public's Access to Water Rights
  • Britt Banks — Moderator
    Executive Director, Getches-Wilkinson Center
  • Craig Mackey
    Co-Director, Protect the Flows
  • Kristin Moseley
    Partner, Porzak Browning & Bushong LLP
  • Anne Castle
    Former Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, U.S. Department of the Interior
  • Mark Squillace
    Professor of Law, University of Colorado
  • Richard Epstein
    Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law, New York University School of Law
Reception (Please note: per university alcohol policy, walk-in registrants will not be admitted to the reception.)

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