[email: David.Post [at] temple.edu ]

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David G. Post:  Research & Writing 

[updated: August, 2012]


                I am currently a Professor of Law at Temple University’s Beasley School of  Law in Philadelphia, PA.  I'm also a Fellow of the Center for Democracy and Technology, an Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute, a Fellow at the Institute for Information Law and Policy at New York Law School, a contributor to the Volokh Conspiracy blog , and a pretty serious guitarist/singer.


                Want more details?  Here's a brief bio, and my complete CV.


A little modest boasting:  The article David Johnson and I wrote in 1996 on “Law and Borders: The Rise of Law in Cyberspace” turns out to have become the 2d-most cited intellectual property article of all time (according to the study recently published in the Michigan Law Review).  And a recent blog posting of mine (on the controversy surrounding interpretation of the Supreme Court’s recent “Obamacare” decision) was cited by the 9th Circuit in US v. Henry.


                For Students:       Temple University Law School's program in Intellectual Property and Technology Law.

                                                My "Writing Guidelines”  [PDF Format]  

The most recent syllabi in my classes:  Introduction to Intellectual Property course (Fall, 2011), Copyright Law (Fall, 2011), Cyberspace Law (Spring, 2011)

My Writing:          Thomas Jefferson and the Internet 

                                Recent Writings (esp. on SOPA, PIPA, and Internet Governance)             

                                Recent Blog Postings

                                Cyberspace Governance                   

                                Copyright Law                                      

                                Complexity Theory and the Law


[Note:  Most of my papers can be accessed at my SSRN author page]




Thomas Jefferson & the Internet


                My book In Search of  Jefferson's Moose: Notes on the State of Cyberspace (Oxford Univ. Press, 2009) recreates Jefferson’s analysis of the New World (published in his “Notes on the State of Virginia”) for cyberspace.  Along the way, we discover some pretty interesting things about the Internet, and about Jefferson — about network design, and Jefferson’s plan for governing the Western Territory, about the protocol stack and the canals of France, about distributed routing, end-to-end design, and the Louisiana Purchase. And about why Jefferson had a moose shipped to him in Paris while he was serving as US minister to France, and why we should care about that.


                Lawrence Lessig wrote a particularly interesting “Foreword” to the (recently-issued) paperback edition.       The book received the Green Bag “Exemplary Legal Writing” award, as well as the Friel-Scanlon Legal Scholarship award.  Some testimonials:


“Reading this beautifully written and extraordinary work today is what it must have been like to know or read Jefferson then. Post has crafted an experience in understanding that allows us to glimpse the genius that Jefferson was, and to leave the book astonished by the talent this extraordinary writer is.”  Lawrence Lessig, Stanford University, author of Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace and Remix


“Now and then, ingenious insight yields an authentic work of genius. David Post’s musing about cyberspace, the law, history, and a great deal more has produced such a work, conceived and written in the finest Jeffersonian spirit.” Sean Wilentz, Princeton University, author of The Age of Reagan


“Jefferson’s Moose is brilliant - and a joy to read. It is the book of a career: sweeping in scope, without dropping a stitch of detail. No one but David Post could have produced this sparkling analysis of the relationship between the world and worldview of Thomas Jefferson and today’s puzzles of cyberspace.” Jonathan Zittrain, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, and author of The Future of the Internet­And How to Stop It


“A fresh, insightful, and eminently readable look at cyberspace policy. It’s surprising and fascinating how much the debates of 200 years ago continue to be relevant today and continue to be echoed today, even in media about which Jefferson and Hamilton could not have dreamed.” Eugene Volokh, UCLA, founder, The Volokh Conspiracy


“David Post is the Jefferson of cyberspace, and in this creative, playful, and entirely original book, he applies Jefferson’s insights about governing the American frontier to think about governance on the Net. Even those who don’t share all of Post’s intuitions will be enlightened by his unique combination of technical precision and romantic imagination.” Jeffrey Rosen, Author of The Unwanted Gaze and The Naked Crowd


Some of the Jefferson pieces I’ve written that didn’t quite make it into the book:


·         Jefferson Ascendant -- Transcript of a Talk at the Wyoming Humanities Festival, Casper Wyoming, April 2000

·         ‘Words Fitly Spoken': Thomas Jefferson and the Slavery Question

·         Napster, Jefferson's Moose, and the Law of Cyberspace   

·         The Free Use of our Faculties:  Jefferson, Cyberspace, and the Languages of Social Life



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Other Recent Writings  [Note:  Most of my papers can be accessed at my SSRN author page]


                SOPA and the Future of Internet Governance         

                Don't Break the Internet (with Mark Lemley and Dave Levine)         64 Stan. L. Rev. Online 34 (2011)

                Sex, Lies, and Videogames:  Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, 2011 Cato Sup. Ct. Rev 27 - 56

                The Continuing Saga of Thomas Jefferson and the Net        [Feb. 2011]

Law Professors’ Letter (with Mark Lemley and Dave Levine) urging Congress to reject the Protect-IP Act.

Amicus Brief (with Annemarie Bridy) in the case of Viacom v. YouTube (2d Cir.) (urging affirmance of district court decision dismissing all copyright infringement claims against YouTube).

Amicus brief (with Marc Isserles) in the case of Twentieth Century Fox v. Cablevision (2d Cir.) (arguing that the instantaneous reproductions made in Random Access Memory (RAM) by digital devices do not constitute “copies” under the Copyright Act).

Amicus brief (with Eric Goldman and Scott Christie) in the case of People of New York v. Direct Revenue LLC, on the matter of the enforceability of “clickwrap” agreements.  [MS Word format here]

Nice Questions UnansweredGrokster, Sony’s Staple Article of Commerce Doctrine, and the Deferred Verdict on Internet File-Sharing” (forthcoming, Cato Supreme Court Review 2005) (with Annemarie Bridy and Timothy Sandefur)    


Needing a summary of the way in which the ICANN Board of Directors is selected, I found, to my surprise, that I couldn’t find a document that fit the bill; so Michelle Arnold and I came up with one.  [HTML] [MS Word]


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Recent Blog Postings


                Click here for a reverse chronological listing of all of my recent Volokh Conspiracy posts.  Here’s a selected list:


Fracking, Trade Secrets, and the First Amendment

NCAA to the Taxpayers of Pennsylvania:  Drop Dead

The Dismal Failure Of Union Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Articles Of Confederation

Issues Outcomes And The Healthcare Decision

Commerce Clause Holding V Dictum Mess Not So Simple

Dicta on the Commerce Clause

Some Baffling Copyright Law



Thoughts from SFO on airport security  

SOPA -- For the Moment Final

Milestone Week for the Net 

Chess and the Open Source Revolution 

File-sharing a religion  

Internet Scale 

Code is Law 

Don't Break the Internet (SOPA etc)        

                More on SOPA 

                ReDigi and First Sale 

                Exam-taking  Mistakes

                Occupy Hollywood - SOPA, Protect IP

Viacom and Youtube again 

Jefferson on Copyright  

Kafkaesque domain name seizures

Sex Lies and Videogames   

My Annual Rant in dialogue form (Tinkerbell Returns!) 

More on "the Internet"

It's the Internet - Please


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Other Writing:  Cyberspace Governance

The Theory of Generativity (78 Fordham L. Rev 2755 (2010))

What Larry Doesn't Get:  Code, Law, and Liberty in Cyberspace (52 Stanford Law Review 1439 (2000)). A review (sort of) of Larry Lessig's book Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace.

Against 'Against Cyberanarchy ' -- a reply to Jack Goldsmith (17 Berkeley Technology Law Journal 1363 (2002))   

Anarchy, State, and the Internet: An Essay on Law_Making in Cyberspace (J. Online Law, 1995)  An early attempt to grapple with some of the new features of cyberspace "law" and, in particular, the relationship between the software that defines this new place and traditional rules and rule-making institutions).

Law and Borders: The Rise of Law in Cyberspace (co-authored with David R. Johnson) (48 Stanford L. Rev. 1367 (1996))  (developing in a (hopefully) more coherent way the argument that irrelevance of physical location on the net strengthens the argument for decentralized 'self-governing' institutions in cyberspace).

And How Shall the Net Be Governed?  A Meditation on the Relative Virtues of Decentralized, Emergent Law ,” (co-authored with David Johnson) (in Coordinating the Internet, Brian Kahin and James Keller (eds.), MIT Press, 1997)

The 'Unsettled Paradox': The Internet, the State, and the Consent of the Governed (5 Indiana J. Global Legal Studies 521, 1998)  (describing some of the ways that the a-geographical character of cyberspace might affect our thinking about the relative advantages of State and non-State institutions in regulating activity there)

Governing Cyberspace (43 Wayne Law Review 155 1997)  (describing the contrast between centralized and de-centralized law-making institutions as a battle between "Hamiltonian" centralizers and "Jeffersonian" de-centralizers for control over the relevant law-making institutions).

Of Horses, Black Holes, and Decentralized Law-Making in Cyberspace   (Yale Private Censorship/Perfect Choice Conference, March 1999) (focusing on the dramatically different ways that one might attempt to control the problem of "spam" on the Internet).

Pooling Intellectual Capital: Some thoughts on Anonymity, Pseudonymity, and Limited Liability in Cyberspace .  1996 U. Chi. L. Forum 139.  A longish piece, arguing that pseudonymity is a kind of "limited liability" (in cyberspace, as elsewhere), and that attempts to regulate "anonymity" in cyberspace must take into account the sometimes profound benefits that pseudonymous communications can afford.


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Complexity Theory and the Law

·         How Long is the Coastline of the Law:  Thoughts on the Fractal Nature of Legal Systems (co-authored with Michael B. Eisen) (29 Journal of Legal Studies 545  (2000)

·          The New Civic Virtue of the Net: A Complex Systems Model for the Governance of Cyberspace   (co-authored with David Johnson) (in The Emerging Internet, 1998 Annual Review of the Institute for Information Studies, (C. Firestone, ed.)

·         Chaos Prevailing on Every Continent": Towards a New Theory of Decentralized Decision-making in Complex Systems (73 Chicago-Kent Law Review 1055 (1998)


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Copyright Law

·         A Summary of Copyright Law.  I prepared this PowerPoint presentation for a talk on copyright issues that I gave recently to the Health Sciences faculty at Temple.

·         "Copyright, Scientific Research, and the Public Access to Science Act ."  [draft]  This is part of the work I've been doing with some of the folks at the Public Library of Science and is intended as a response to some of the arguments put forward by opponents of the recently-introduced "Public Access to Science Act."

·          His Napster's Voice  (20 Temple Env. & Tech. L.J. 35 (2002), reprinted in Copy Fights: The Future of Intellectual Property in the Information Age (W. Crews and A. Thierer, eds (Cato Institute, 2002)) and Mots Pluriels , special edition No 18 (August 2001) [ MS Word version here


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Other, Older Stuff


 Technolog! & (Meaning /3 Life  

    Personal Jurisdiction and Cyberspace Governance

Some Plugging In columns on jurisdictional matters
"Cyberspace's Constitutional Moment" (November 1998)

" The State of the States" (September 1998)

Betting On Cyberspace (June 1997)


Copyright Law and other Intellectual Property matters

Miscellaneous Issues