Pamela Samuelson is a dauntingly bright woman who knows much more about intellectual property law in the real world and in cyberspace than is probably healthy.
This is a good thing for Netizens who cherish an open Net, a cyberspace as free of corporate and government control as possible — for cyberspace aficionados and online initiates both, who value the Internet as bazaar rather than shopping mall.
Samuelson, a professor of law and information management at the University of California, Berkeley, and director of the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology, now has her own institutional namesake at Berkeley: the Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic.
According to a Berkeley news release, it is a "first-of-its-kind law clinic that aims to establish a moral voice and public conscience for Silicon Valley in emerging high-technology issues."
Said Samuelson in the release: "The Internet is catalyzing the emergence of a global society in which ways of doing business, of using information and participating in community life are fundamentally altered. The time to address the publics interest in this new society is now, before crucial policy decisions are made by industry and government and the publics voice is lost."
Samuelson, who in 1997 was made a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellow — meaning she was a recipient of a MacArthur "genius" award — offers more than just a rhetorical commitment to the Net.
Last year, she and her husband, Robert Glushko, who is a director at e-commerce services provider Commerce One, generously endowed the clinic with a $2 million donation.
The clinic will shepherd cadres of students through the fluid maze of cyberspace law, training new armies of Net-savvy attorneys every year and giving the World Wide Web the legal sentries it needs to keep flourishing.