The Tech/Law Colloquium speaker for Tuesday, October 24, will be James Grimmelmann, a professor of law at Cornell Tech and Cornell Law School. Gimmelmann studies how laws regulating software affect freedom, wealth, and power. He tries to help lawyers and technologists understand each other by writing about digital copyright, search engines, privacy on social networks, online governance, and other topics in computer and Internet law.

Talk: The Structure and Interpretation of Legal Programs

Abstract: From smart contracts to web scraping, legal actors are increasingly being required to determine the legal effects of computer programs. Doing so frequently requires interpreting them as though they were legal texts, like statutes, contracts, or wills. Programs, however, have at least one authoritative interpretive methodology -- "run it and see what it does" -- with no exact legal counterpart. By exploring the similarities and differences between legal interpretation and software interpretation, I hope to shed some new light on the old slogan that code is law.


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