Harvard Law School Berkman Center for Internet & Society The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School


The following is a brief list of the most frequently asked questions about the Berkman Center. Please feel free to email us at cyber@law.harvard.edu if you have a question we haven't answered here.

What is cyberlaw?  |  How old is the Berkman Center?  |  Is the Berkman Center part of Harvard Law School?  |  How do I contact Berkman affiliates?  |  How do I get involved?  |  How do I find out about the online series?  |  Where do I get more information?  |  How do I find out about upcoming events?  |  Do you have a newsletter?  |  Who handles press inquiries? |  Do you provide legal assistance? |  Can you help me follow up with a conference presenter/speaker?Do you have a privacy policy?


Q: What is "cyberlaw"?

There isn't uniform agreement on this question -- indeed, some scholars think there shouldn't be a separate field by that name! To the Berkman Center, cyberlaw is not simply a pile of cases that happen to involve computers, or telephones, or electricity. We see at least one theme: in cyberspace, code is law. The actual software architecture can determine and constrain behavior much as traditional laws do in our communities. To study cyberlaw, then, is to be mindful of the dynamics of the code -- who has written it, how it might be structured differently and with what results, and how "policy" might be made in a world where the parameters are defined by "private" code that can bind us all. To study cyberlaw is also to realize that the code that sets the backdrop for a given legal judgment could be inverted in a heartbeat.


Q: How old is the Berkman Center?

In 1996, Harvard Law School professor Charles Nesson and Jonathan Zittrain established what was then called the "Center on Law and Technology" at Harvard Law School. The Center grew out of a seminar Nesson initiated with Arthur Miller, David Marglin, and Tom Smuts in 1994 on cutting-edge Internet issues. The Center set out "to explore and understand cyberspace, its development, dynamics, norms, standards, and need or lack thereof for laws and sanctions." A gift of $5.4 million in 1997 from the Berkman family--Jack N. and Lillian R. Berkman, and their son Myles--underwrote Nesson's vision. Professor Lawrence Lessig was awarded the Berkman professorship. The Center on Law and Technology then changed its name to the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, and has been steadily expanding ever since.


Q: Is the Berkman Center part of Harvard Law School?

Yes it is. Harvard Law faculty provide the mainstay of our research and Harvard Law students participate at all levels in our exploration of the relationship between Law (writ large) and cyberspace. We offer research support to faculty and teach a variety of cyberlaw courses -- many in collaboration with other Harvard schools and MIT -- integrating what we do with the larger mission of the university.

We are not associated in any fashion, however, with admission to any of the Harvard Law School academic programs. To learn more about these programs, click here.

The Berkman Center does not award degrees or certificates.


Q: How do I contact individual Berkman Center affiliates?

Due to the fact that most Berkman Center faculty, fellows and affiliates do not have offices at the Berkman Center, it is best to contact them via email; a list of email addresses is available here.

Many Berkman-affiliated faculty are professors here at Harvard Law School; contact information for these individuals is available here.


Q: How do I get involved with the Berkman Center?

There are innumerable (and overlapping) ways to get involved with the Berkman Center -- as a financial supporter, a volunteer, an intern, a fellow, a conference participant, or an online lecture and discussion series participant, to name a few.

Click here to find out about our fellowship and internship opportunities.

Click here to find out about our online lecture and discussion series.

For other inquiries, please send an e-mail message to cyber@law.harvard.edu describing the capacity in which you wish to become involved with the Berkman Center.


Q: How do I find out about the online series offered by the Berkman Center?

Information about and a schedule of our free online lecture and discussion series is posted here. You will also find instructions on how to register for a series, all of which are non-credit.


Q: Where do I get more information about the Berkman Center?

Our website is the most abundant and up-to-date source of information about the Berkman Center, its objectives, and its endeavors. We also have some more general, printed informational materials available that you can request by sending an email to cyber@law.harvard.edu. In the subject line of your message, write "Informational Materials." In the body of your message, please briefly describe your particular area of interest.

You may also wish to take a look at our collection of recent articles about the Berkman Center, its projects, and its affiliates.


Q: How do I find out about upcoming events?

Subscribing to our electronic newsletter, The Filter, is the best way to keep up-to-date about Berkman Center events. You may also join our internal "events" mailing list, a low-volume list that sends announcements to subscribers about upcoming local events of interest. To join the list, email cyber@law.harvard.edu and write "Events Mailing List" in the subject line of the message.

Also, check out our events page. We encourage you to consult it regularly and to email us at cyber@law.harvard.edu with any unlisted events that pertain to our efforts.


Q: Do you have a newsletter? How do I subscribe?

The Filter is our digital monthly newsletter. It is sent out via email to subscribers and is also posted and archived on our website. The Filter features reports from a widely scattered team of leading experts, scholars and researchers and offers a unique perspective on today's most pressing public interest-oriented Internet issues. It also keeps subscribers up-to-date on Berkman Center events and projects. Click here to browse some past issues and to subscribe.


Q: Who handles press inquiries?

Donna Wentworth handles all general press inquiries. You can send your inquiry to donna@cyber.law.harvard.edu or call (617) 495-0662.


Q: Does the Berkman Center provide legal assistance?

As a general rule, the Berkman Center does not (and cannot) provide legal assistance. You may, however, wish to consult our OpenLaw Project page and contact an individual Berkman faculty member to determine whether your particular case applies. Harvard Law School students occasionally contribute to cyber-related cases as clinical work, under the supervision of a Berkman Center-affiliated faculty member.


Q: Can you help me follow up with/on a Berkman Center conference presenter/speaker?

We are ready to help you follow up with one of our conference presenters/speakers. Simply send an email to cyber@law.harvard.edu that briefly identifies whom you wish to contact and why.

Q: Do you have a privacy policy?

We are working on a full privacy statement and expect to post it soon. In the interim, we collect and analyze data about the specific web pages viewed, the locations of viewing users, the search terms and referring pages leading to our site, and the basic characteristics of users' computers. We use this data in part to track the use of our site and part to improve it; we sometimes also use log data for research purposes, consistent with our mission statement.