Research

The Berkman Center enjoys a global reputation for cutting-edge work centered on the relationships between the Internet, law, and society. Our mode — entrepreneurial nonprofit — embraces our pursuit of scholarly research in the manner and spirit of an academic think tank, anchored by the diverse collaborative and individual work of our faculty and fellows. more >

The Berkman Center enjoys a global reputation for cutting-edge work centered on the relationships between the Internet, law, and society. Our mode — entrepreneurial nonprofit — embraces our pursuit of scholarly research in the manner and spirit of an academic think tank, anchored by the diverse collaborative and individual work of our faculty and fellows.

Our efforts are concentrated in three areas of inquiry, united by the question of how the Internet can elicit the best from its users.

Law, Technology, Innovation, and Knowledge

The Berkman Center has sought and seeks, first, to be an honest broker in the conversations about the future of the Internet and related technologies. In the field of intellectual property, the need for creative solutions derived from understanding the varied motivations of the relevant players, has continued to grow as the economy changes around the world.

The Relationship between Internet and Civic Activity

Second, we see an enormous need to bring clarity to the conversation about the Internet’s impact on democracy. As more and more activists are using the network as an essential set of tools to do their job — in democratic and non-democratic regimes alike — the threats to their personal security and their ability to express themselves are growing.

Technology, Law, and Development

Third, we envision a growing opportunity to use Internet technologies to improve the way that we teach, learn, and make information accessible to citizens around the world who are not physically proximate to our libraries.

 

Broadband

Since submitting its Next Generation Connectivity report to the FCC's National Broadband Plan committee, the Berkman Center has continued its research on broadband policy.

Chilling Effects

The Chilling Effects Clearinghouse tracks threats to online expression, cataloging cease-and-desist notices and helping Internet users to understand their rights in response.

Circumvention

The Berkman Center's Circumvention project is engaged in designing and conducting research aimed at gaining a broad understanding of the usage of circumvention tools.

Cloud Computing

Led by Executive Director and Harvard Law School Professor of Practice, Urs Gasser, the Berkman Center's cloud computing initiative seeks to identify and evaluate the challenges and opportunities associated with cloud computing, with a particular focus on the technological, social, legal, and market contexts that shape it.

Cooperation

The Cooperation Group is an interdisciplinary community of scholars studying networked cooperation. Our current activities include a series of empirical research projects on online collaboration, as well as a weekly meeting in which we present and discuss research on cooperation from a variety of academic disciplines.

Copyright for Librarians

The Berkman Center partnered with eIFL to deliver a distance learning program on copyright for librarians. The resulting curriculum, made available on March 24, 2010, can be used for distance learning, self-directed learning, or in-classroom instruction.

CopyrightX

CopyrightX is a twelve-week networked course, offered each Spring under the auspices of Harvard Law School, the HarvardX distance-learning initiative, and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. The course explores the current law of copyright and the ongoing debates concerning how that law should be reformed. Through a combination of pre-recorded lectures, weekly seminars, live webcasts, and online discussions, participants in the course examine and assess the ways in which law seeks to stimulate and regulate creative expression.

Cyberlaw Clinic

Harvard Law School‘s Cyberlaw Clinic, based at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, provides high-quality, pro-bono legal services to appropriate clients on issues relating to the Internet, new technology, and intellectual property. Students enhance their preparation for high-tech practice and earn course credit by working on real-world litigation, client counseling, advocacy, and transactional / licensing projects and cases. The Clinic strives to help clients achieve success in their activities online, mindful of (and in response to) existing law. The Clinic also works with clients to shape the law’s development through policy and advocacy efforts. The Cyberlaw Clinic was the first of its kind, and it continues its tradition of innovation in its areas of practice. The Clinic works independently, with law students supervised by experienced and licensed attorneys. In some cases, the Clinic collaborates with counsel throughout the country (including lawyers at Cooley LLP) to take advantage of regional or substantive legal expertise.

Cybersecurity

Launched in December 2014 and led by Principal Investigator Jonathan Zittrain, former US National Counterterrorism Center Director Matt Olsen, and Bruce Schneier, the cybersecurity project will engage in a clean-slate evaluation of the role of the foreign intelligence community in promoting cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity Wiki

During 2010-2012, under the guidance of Professor Jack Goldsmith, the Berkman Center team created a cybersecurity wiki, which houses an evolving set of more than 350 foundational articles, annotations, reports, and other resources on cybersecurity, broadly-defined.

Digital Media Law Project

Founded in 2007 as the "Citizen Media Law Project," the Digital Media Law Project (DMLP) works to ensure that individuals and organizations involved in online journalism and digital media have access to the legal resources, education, tools, and representation that they need to thrive.

Digital Problem-Solving Initiative

The Digital Problem-Solving Initiative (DPSI) at Harvard University is an innovative and collaborative program that brings together a diverse group of learners (students, faculty, fellows, and staff) to work on projects to address challenges and opportunities across the university. DPSI offers participants a novel opportunity to enhance and cultivate competency in various digital literacies as teams engage with research, design, and policy relating to the digital world.

E-Publishing Models

With the generous support of the Revson Foundation, the E-Publishing Models Project is focused on exploring current issues associated with digital publishing business models and access to electronically published materials in libraries.

Global Access in Action

Global Access in Action, a project of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, conducts action-oriented research into access to lifesaving medicines, and alternative incentives for the development of medical treatments for underserved populations. Improving access and promoting socially beneficial innovation are key strategies for combatting the communicable disease burden that disproportionately harms the world’s most vulnerable populations.

Global Network Initiative

In partnership with the Center for Democracy and Technology and Business for Social Responsibility, in addition to leading human rights groups, academic institutions, socially responsible investment firms, and internet and communications technology (ICT) companies — including Google, Vodafone, France Telecom, Microsoft, TeliaSonera, and Yahoo! — the Berkman Center has participated in an initiative to protect and advance individuals' rights to free expression and privacy on the Internet through the creation of a set of principles and supporting mechanisms for ICT companies.

H2O

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society, with support from the Harvard Law School Library, has developed a Web-based platform — H2O — for creating, editing, organizing, consuming, and sharing course materials. With this capacity to develop countless customized electronic textbooks, we envision building a corpus of open-source materials available for dynamic use by faculty and students at Harvard and beyond. Piloted with legal casebooks, H2O has been received with broad approval in Professor Jonathan Zittrain’s Torts class, with the planned expansion into a number of additional courses in the 2012-2013 school year.

Herdict

Herdict collects and disseminates real-­time, crowdsourced information about Internet filtering, denial of service attacks, and other blockages. Based at the Berkman Center at Harvard University, it is the first and only large-­scale project of its kind. When individuals can’t access a site, they can report that experience to Herdict through browser toolbars, e-­mail, Twitter, or Herdict.org. Herdict aggregates this data to create a real-­time map of global Internet health. This data can be sorted and visualized by country, URL, and date, creating a picture of changes as they are happening. As more of peoples’ lives move online, tools like Herdict will become increasingly important.

Internet Monitor

Internet Monitor is a research project to evaluate, describe, and summarize the means, mechanisms, and extent of Internet content controls and Internet activity around the world. The project compiles and curates data from multiple sources, including primary data collected by the Berkman Center and our partners, as well as relevant secondary data. The Internet Monitor platform is a freely available online fact base that gives policy makers, digital activists, researchers, and user communities an authoritative, independent, and multi-faceted set of quantitative data on the state of the global Internet. Internet Monitor also provides expert analysis on the state of the global Internet via our special report series and our annual reports on notable events and trends in the digital space.

Internet Robustness

The Internet Robustness project is developing, testing, and piloting software and protocols such as Amber to safeguard the promise of the URL, or "Uniform Resource Locator": that information placed online can remain there, even amidst network or endpoint disruptions.

Interoperability

In early June 2012, Urs Gasser and John Palfrey released Interoperability: The Promise and Perils of Highly Interconnected Systems. The book is inspired by their 2005 study and paper—“Breaking Down Digital Barriers: When and How Information and ICT Interoperability Drives Innovation”—which examined the relationship between interoperability and innovation in the ICT environment. The book builds a theory of interoperability, and then illustrates how that theory works and why interoperability is relevant for consumers, companies, governments, and the public.

Jamaica Project

True to the Berkman Center’s expansive interest in the interaction between internet and society, the Jamaica project’s mission centers on the use of the internet to shape, define and change society and the world around us – and empower others to do the same. It has explored topics from restorative justice, prison reform and Jamaican independence, to self-expression, learning and entrepreneurship.

Law Lab

The Law Lab is a multidisciplinary research initiative and collaborative network of University, nonprofit and industry partners. Its mission is to investigate and harness the varied forces — evolutionary, social, psychological, neurological and economic — that shape the role of law and social norms as they enable cooperation, governance and entrepreneurial innovation...

Media Cloud

Media Cloud, a joint project of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and the Center for Civic Media at MIT, is an open source, open data platform that allows researchers to answer complex quantitative and qualitative questions about the content of online media. Using Media Cloud, academic researchers, journalism critics, and interested citizens can examine what media sources cover which stories, what language different media outlets use in conjunction with different stories, and how stories spread from one media outlet to another.
 

Mindsport Research Network

The Mindsport Research Network aims to build multiple experimental frameworks for understanding human strategic thinking in mind sports. Research will extend not only to understanding the intuitive thinking process of outstanding competitors, but also to the potential educational, emotional, intellectual and economic benefits for students in mind sport cooperation and competition.

Network of Interdisciplinary Internet & Society Research Centers

The global Network of Internet & Society Centers (NoC) is a collaborative initiative among academic institutions with a focus on interdisciplinary research on the development, social impact, policy implications, and legal issues concerning the Internet. This collective aims to increase interoperability between participating centers in order to stimulate the creation of new cross-national, cross-disciplinary conversation, debate, teaching, learning, and engagement regarding the most pressing questions around new technologies, social change, and related policy and regulatory developments.

OpenNet Initiative

A collaborative project between the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto; the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University; and the SecDev Group (Ottawa), OpenNet Initiative's mission is to identify and document Internet filtering and surveillance, and to promote and inform wider public dialogs about such practices.

Privacy Initiatives

The Berkman Center has long been home to a number of cross-disciplinary initiatives that investigate privacy and privacy-relevant questions in the digitally networked environment. To this end, we offer research, resources, workshops, and other outputs focused on key privacy issues, aiming to pinpoint novel solutions to privacy problems that reconcile technological, legal, political, economic, and behavioral tensions and maximize capacity for innovative and effective uses of data and communications. Our most recent work in the privacy space includes the Student Privacy Initiative, the Youth and Online Privacy Initiative, and the Privacy Tools for Sharing Research Data project.

Privacy Initiatives

Privacy Tools for Sharing Research Data

Led collaboratively by Harvard University's Center for Research on Computation and Society (CRCS) at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Institute for Quantitative Social Science (IQSS), and Berkman Center for Internet & Society, with support from the Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) program at the National Science Foundation, the Privacy Tools for Sharing Research Data project seeks to develop methods, tools, and policies to further the tremendous value that can come from collecting, analyzing, and sharing data while more fully protecting individual privacy.

ProjectVRM

ProjectVRM seeks to improve markets by equipping customers with tools for both independence from vendors and better engagement with vendors.
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Rethink Music

The Berkman Center works in collaboration with Berklee College of Music on a variety of initiatives under the Rethink Music banner, examining the law, policy, and business structures that inform the creation and dissemination of music.

Privacy Initiatives

Student Privacy Initiative

Led by Berkman Center Executive Director Urs Gasser, the Student Privacy Initiative-- part of the Center's growing suite of Privacy Initiatives-- aims to surface, identify, and evaluate central privacy issues and opportunities that may emerge when educational institutions consider moving to "the cloud." We hope to engage and collaborate with school administrators, academics, industry representatives, and policy officials as well as students, parents, and teachers to develop a shared set of good practices that can support the many potential benefits of cloud-based technologies across diverse educational contexts.

OpenNet Initiative

Surveillance

The Surveillance project is drawing a map of the different forms and impacts of surveillance online. Funded by the MacArthur Foundation and run in collaboration with our partner institutions from the OpenNet Initiative on Internet filtering, the project will explore the various technical, political, and social issues involved in Internet surveillance through its blog, An Eye on Surveillance, and through a series of upcoming research papers.

Viral Peace

Leveraging its national and global networks, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is pleased to announce an effort to form a first-of-its-kind thematic network of experts, educators, practitioners, and ambassadors that will facilitate, promote, and strengthen collaboration to counter youth-oriented hate speech online.

Youth and Media

Led by Principal Investigator Urs Gasser and Youth and Media Director Sandra Cortesi, in cooperation with Berkman board member John Palfrey and colleagues, Youth and Media (YaM) encompasses an array of research, advocacy, and development initiatives around youth and digital technology. By understanding young people‘s interactions with digital media such as the Internet, cell phones, and video games, this highly collaborative project aims to gain detailed insights into youth practices and digital fluencies, harness the associated opportunities, address challenges, and ultimately shape the evolving regulatory and educational framework in a way that advances the public interest.

Youth and Media

The Kinder & Braver World Project: Research Series

The Kinder & Braver World Project: Research Series (danah boyd and John Palfrey, editors), is presented by the Born This Way Foundation & the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, and supported by the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. This working paper series publishes short papers that synthesize existing peer-reviewed research or equivalent scholarship and provide research-grounded insight to the variety of stakeholders working on issues related to youth empowerment and action towards creating a kinder, braver world.