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Keynote by Aaron Perzanowski

Ownership, Preservation & Control

Published onJun 11, 2024
Keynote by Aaron Perzanowski

Aaron Perzanowski holds the esteemed Thomas W. Lacchia Professorship of Law at the University of Michigan Law School. His work focusses on intellectual and personal property law and the concept of ownership in the digital economy. His books include The End of Ownership, co-authored with Jason Schultz, and The Right to Repair.

In his work, Aaron examines and critiques how the market economy has shifted from the exchange of tangible goods to one of licensed access to digital media, software and related services. This evolution has profound and far-reaching implications for digital preservation, which will be the focus of his keynote address at iPRES 2024.

Consumers can no longer rely on the purchase itself to guarantee them long term access to digital movies, games, and other media. Farmers can no longer expect the right to repair the equipment they own, free from manufacturer interference. Libraries can not truly guarantee patrons perpetual access to titles ostensibly in their digital collections, since license arrangements can change significantly over time. And in archives, license terms might contradict the need to transcode, transform and preserve digital materials when appropriate.

Aaron Perzanowski

“We are approaching a critical decision as a society, whether we want to embrace a form of disposable digital consumerism—and the economic and environmental costs it entails—or if we will demand products that are durable and designed with repair in mind.”
Q&A with Professor Aaron Perzanowski - Case Western Reserve University 2020

For centuries, the notion of ownership and the legal rights that flow from it have been foundational to preserving individual autonomy and preventing post-sale restrictions on the use of information goods. Digital distribution and attendant licensing structures have undermined this legal architecture without offering any suitable alternatives. Expanding our understanding of ownership to embrace digital assets might offer a path forward.

Previously, Aaron Perzanowski lectured at Case Western Reserve University, Wayne State University and UC Berkeley School of Information, he was a visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame and a Microsoft Research Fellow at UC Berkeley School of Law. He has been published in several law reviews and journals such as: Notre Dame Law Review, Minnesota Law Review, Harvard Journal of Law & Technology, Indiana Law Journal, and more.

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