I’m posting this disclosure to set forth the things that I think
readers of this site ought to know about some of my biases and about
things that I will and won’t do on this site with respect to these
No one pays me to write this blog, nor will I agree to blog anything here for payment.
Most of my time and focus is geared toward being Executive Director
of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society and as Clinical
Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. My biases that can
be traced from this work map pretty well to the elements of our
I strive to be a relatively objective researcher and teacher but
of course I adopt certain normative viewpoints on the issues that I
write about here.
From time to time, I do a small amount of paid consulting work
related to issues that I am not directly studying in my day job, in a
manner that is consistent with Harvard University’s conflict of
interest and conflict of commitments rules. I have been involved
in developing the beta version of a free, public aggregator called Newsilike and a new media site, Top10Sources.
I am involved in a partnership that is seeking to invest capital in
early-stage companies, called RSS Investors. I also have a modest
number of not-very-valuable stock holdings in other private and public
technology companies — sadly, nowhere near the “5% beneficial owners
of a publicly traded security” threshold that the SEC sets forth.
A special note on patents: this disclosure doesn’t have to do with
this blog exactly, but about the activities of some of the companies in
which I have an equity interest through RSS Investors or otherwise which
may end up holding patents related to information technologies. I
support the reform of the patent system. To the extent that I
personally profit from the straight exploitation of patent claims that
issue to any of these companies, I intend to contribute those profits
to the Berkman Center or a similarly suitable institution to support
the study of patent reform. I also intend to advocate, to the
extent appropriate and as consistent with fiduciary duties, for the use
of creative licensing regimes, especially to support use in the .edu
and .org domains.
I promise not (knowingly) to promote any given product or
service on this site, whether or not I have any interest in such
products or services. If ever I think that I ought to disclose a
specific conflict, I will do so inline within a given blog entry.
As David W puts it in his fine disclosure,
(which is admittedly a model for this one): “All I can promise is
that I will be honest with you and never write something I don’t
believe in because someone is paying me as part of a relationship you
don’t know about. Put differently: All I’ll hide are the
If you have any questions about my disclosures, which I will update
from time to time, please feel free to write to me at jpalfrey AT
[…] This conundrum is real, and I’ve learned a great deal from finding myself caught in it. As with many people who teach, I have “outside activities” beyond my work at HLS and Berkman. Outside activities are good because they help pay the mortgage in the Boston area. They are also good because you learn things about the real world and keep you from becoming an ivory tour caricature of an academic. My outside activities have been primarily as an investor in RSS-related technologies and helping real entrepreneurs found companies in this space. Outside activities are a pain in the neck because I, anyway, constantly feel a tension between my academic identity (teacher and researcher of interesting Internet law topics) and my outside-activities identity (investor and participant in the marketplace). Much of this tension can be dealth with through disclosure — more on that in a moment. Nowhere is that tension more acute than in this patent space. […]