20th Anniversary Logo Institute for Intellectual Property & Information Law




Anrews Kurth

Paul Ohm
Paul Ohm
Professor of Law
Georgetown University Law Center

Click here for Professor Ohm's faculty listing

Thursday, March 22, 2018



Coronado Club

To RSVP or for further information, contact
ipil@uh.edu or 713.743.2180
One Hour of CLE Credit

Working Title: Forthright Code


We want our software not to lie to us. The Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general have long enforced laws prohibiting "deceptive acts or practices", and recently, they have started bringing actions against companies for deploying "deceptive code" or "deceptive design."

But as every parent knows, not lying is not the same thing as being honest and forthright. Even when software isn't deceptive, far too often it still is not as honest as it could be, giving rise to consumer harm, power imbalances, and a worrisome restructuring of society. With increasing and troubling frequency, software hides the full truth, in order to control or manipulate us.

What if regulators and law enforcement agencies could mandate not just non-deceptiveness but also forthrightness from our code? Companies might be punished for prominently displaying a button saying, "Yes, I agree" while making the "No, I disagree" choice hard-to-spot and hard-to-click. It might become illegal to bury a privacy-enhancing choice behind four clicks, when the default choice requires none. In this year's IPIL lecture, Professor Paul Ohm will lay out the case for a new law obligating developers to use forthright code.

A new obligation for forthrightness must strike a fine legal balance, protecting consumers against new perils of our software-mediated age without treading too much on first amendment expression. We ought to try to strike this balance, Professor Ohm will argue, especially in light of looming new challenges from artificial intelligence. AI systems are prone to discriminate and otherwise act unfairly, and it is hard to understand what is going on in these opaque and complex systems. Forthrightness goes farther than recent calls for "explainability" or "interpretability" by requiring a deeper, more fundamental demonstration of fairness than these proposals, one which will help us distinguish between fundamentally fair systems and those that are merely surrounded by a thin veneer of fairness.



2017 CHRISTOPHER JON SPRIGMAN, Professor of Law, New York University School of Law
Copyright and Creative Incentives: What We Know (And Don't)
2017 CHRISTOPHER JON SPRIGMAN, Professor of Law, New York University School of Law
Copyright and Creative Incentives: What We Know (And Don't)

Commentator: Bob McAughan

Event Invitation

Event Photos

JEANNE FROMER2016 MARK LEMLEY, William H. Neukom Professor of Law, Stanford Law School
Rethinking Assignor Estoppel

Commentator: Ed Fein

Event Invitation

Event Photos

JEANNE FROMER2015 JEANNE FROMER, Professor of Law, New York University School of Law
Should the Law Care Why Intellectual Property Rights Have Been Asserted?

Commentator: Richard Phillips

Event Invitation

Event Photos

Julie CohenEvent Invitation2014 JULIE E. COHEN, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center
Post-Industrial Property

Commentator: Bart Showalter

Event Photos

David McGowanEvent Invitation2013 DAVID MCGOWAN, Lyle L. Jones Professor of Competition & Innovation Law and Director, Center for Intellectual Property Law & Markets, University of San Diego School of Law
The Unfallen Sky: Assessing the Relative Effectiveness of Legal and Market Adaptations to Technological Change


Commentator: Jacqueline Lipton

Event Photos

R. Anthony ReeseEvent Invitation2012 R. ANTHONY REESE, Chancellor's Professor of Law, University of California - Irvine School of Law
What Does Copyright Law Owe the Future?

Commentator: Paul R. Morico

Event Photos

Paul GoldsteinEvent Invitation2011 PAUL GOLDSTEIN, Stella W. and Ira S. Lillick Professor of Law, Stanford Law School
Copyright on a Clean Slate

Commentator: Phillip Page

Event Photos

Douglas LichtmanEvent Invitation2010 DOUGLAS LICHTMAN, Professor of Law, University of California – Los Angeles School of Law
Pricing Patents: The RAND Commitment


Commentator: Gordon White

Event Photos

William O. HennesseyEvent Invitation2009 WILLIAM O. HENNESSEY, Professor of Law and Chair, Intellectual Property Graduate Programs, Franklin Pierce Law Center
Thirty Years (and More) of IP in China: A Personal Reflection

Commentator: Margaret (Meg) Boulware

Event Photos

Robert MergesEvent Invitation2008 ROBERT MERGES, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati Professor of Law and Technology, Director, Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, University of California School of Law – Boalt Hall
The Concept of Property in the Digital Age

Event Photos

Commentator: Henry N. Garrana


Joel ReidenbergEvent Invitation2007 JOEL REIDENBERG, Professor of Law and Founding Director of the Center on Law and Information Policy, Fordham University School of Law
The Rule of Intellectual Property Law in the Internet Economy

Commentator: Jeff C. Dodd

Event Photos

Arthur GajarsaEvent Invitation2006 THE HONORABLE ARTHUR J. GAJARSA, United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
Patents in a Changing Economy Event Photos

Commentator: Scott F. Partridge


Scott KieffEvent Invitation2005 F. SCOTT KIEFF, Professor of Law, Washington University in St. Louis-School of Law
Theory & Practice in Commercializing Innovation


Commentator: John D. Norris

Event Photos

Jane GinsburgEvent Invitation2004 JANE C. GINSBURG, Morton L. Janklow Professor of Literary and Artistic Property Law, Columbia University School of Law School
The Right to Claim Authorship after Dastar

Commentator: Paul E. Krieger

Event Photos