The Engelberg Center on Innovation Law & Policy at NYU Law studies the drivers of innovation and law and policy that best support innovation. The Center has a wide variety of interest areas, including, but not limited to, intellectual property, privacy, and competition law and policy.
In a sit-down with Michael Weinberg, the Engelberg Center’s Executive Director, Weinberg described the Center as a place where legal scholars and practitioners, technologists, economists, social scientists, physical scientists, historians, innovators, and industry experts can collaborate and discover the latest in innovation. Weinberg elaborated on the Center’s role as a sort of embassy between NYU Law and the rest of the world, as well as an access point for the rest of the University to engage with this work at NYU Law. So, when someone outside the legal field is exploring a relevant topic, such as a computer scientist considering Artificial Intelligence, the Center serves as a place where that person can come to think through the legal or policy ramifications of that subject. The Center bridges the gap between hypothetical problems explored in the academic space and the practical experiences of individuals working in those fields. One of the reasons the Engelberg Center exists is to connect the rest of the world to these interdisciplinary legal and policy conversations.
Weinberg joined the Center in 2018 because he was looking for a place that could make more of an impact on the discussions about tech policy. He saw it as an exciting opportunity to take all the things NYU Law has to offer – students, professors, and a network of intellectually curious people interested in these issues – and bring them together in an academic space to think through these questions together and publish useful information for those working through these issues in practice.
For example, the Center’s recent report, The Anti-Ownership Ebook Economy: How Publishers and Platforms Have Reshaped How We Read in the Digital Age, explores the driving factors of the structure of the eBook’s licensing model, and the Engelberg Center will be hosting an event titled “Exploring the Anti-Ownership eBook Economy” on Friday, October 27, 2023. A summary of the report authored by another staff editor can be found on the JIPEL blog for those who are not able to attend the event.
Weinberg described the idea behind this event as an opportunity to bring together the different actors in the eBook economy to discuss the drivers behind the change in ownership in the world of digital books. The Center has found that if you ask different actors — such as publishers, writers, readers, librarians —why the eBook licensing model is the way it is, they all give a nuanced explanation of their own piece of the puzzle and the incentives and constraints that they are operating under. And the current equilibrium — the current structure of the market — is the result of everyone’s incentives and constraints balancing out. But the different actors also project their experiences onto others within the eBook ecosystem, whether it be right or wrong to do so. So, this event is an opportunity to hear different perspectives and operational structures, challenge those assumptions made, and understand each other’s incentives and constraints in order to consider whether a different structure may better balance the needs of the market.