William W. Fisher

WilmerHale Professor of Intellectual Property Law

Faculty Director, Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society

Biography

Professor Fisher received his undergraduate degree (in American Studies) from Amherst College and his graduate degrees (J.D. and Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization) from Harvard University. Between 1982 and 1984, he served as a law clerk to Judge Harry T. Edwards of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and then to Justice Thurgood Marshall of the United States Supreme Court. Since 1984, he has taught at Harvard Law School, where he is currently the Wilmer Hale Professor of Intellectual Property Law and the Director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. His academic honors include a Danforth Postbaccalaureate Fellowship (1978-1982) and a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Stanford, California (1992-1993).

Additional information concerning his scholarship, teaching, and professional activities may be found on his homepage.

Areas of Interest

William W. Fisher, Promises to Keep: Technology, Law, and the Future of Entertainment (Stanford Univ. Press 2004).
Categories:
Legal Profession
,
Technology & Law
,
Property Law
,
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Sub-Categories:
Arts & Entertainment Law
,
Legal Reform
,
Property Rights
,
Intellectual Property - Copyright
,
Intellectual Property Law
Type: Book
William W. Fisher, Texts and Contexts: The Application to American Legal History of the Methodologies of Intellectual History, 49 Stan. L. Rev. 1065 (1997).
Categories:
Legal Profession
,
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Sub-Categories:
Legal Theory & Philosophy
,
Legal History
Type: Article
Abstract
In this article, Professor William Fisher surveys how recent work in American legal history has been influenced by four methodologies developed by intellectual historians. He then identifies nine possible purposes of legal history and evaluates how the four methodologies might further each.
William W. Fisher, Lessons from CopyrightX, in Copyright Law in an Age of Limitations and Exceptions (Ruth Okediji ed., 2016).
Categories:
Property Law
,
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
Legal Education
,
Intellectual Property - Copyright
Type: Book
William W. Fisher, Maps of Intellectual Property (Berkman Ctr. for Internet & Soc'y at Harv. U., Oct. 18, 2016).
Categories:
Property Law
Sub-Categories:
Intellectual Property - Copyright
,
Intellectual Property - Patent & Trademark
Type: Other
William W. Fisher & Felix Oberholzer-Gee, Strategic Management of Intellectual Property: An Integrated Approach, Cal. Mgmt. Rev., Summer 2013, at 157.
Categories:
Property Law
,
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Intellectual Property - Copyright
,
Intellectual Property - Patent & Trademark
,
Intellectual Property Law
Type: Article
Abstract
In many organizations, the R&D, strategy, and legal functions are poorly integrated. As a consequence, firms miss opportunities to create and exploit the value of intellectual property. Functional silos are one reason for the lack of integration. More important, however, is the lack of a common framework and even language that would allow engineers, lawyers, and business executives to manage IP assets better. This article provides such a framework. There is no one best way to manage IP and many managers overestimate the attractiveness of using IP to exert market power. Rather, the value of the various means to protect and benefit from IP depends on firm strategy, the competitive landscape, and the rapidly changing contours of intellectual property law.
William W. Fisher, Digital Music: Problems and Possibilities, Harv. L. Sch. (last revised Oct. 10, 2000).
Categories:
Technology & Law
,
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Sub-Categories:
Arts & Entertainment Law
,
Intellectual Property Law
Type: Other
William W. Fisher, The Implications for Law of User Innovation, 94 Minn. L. Rev. 1417 (2010).
Categories:
Technology & Law
,
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
Legal Reform
,
Intellectual Property Law
Type: Article
William W. Fisher & Electronic Information for Libraries, Copyright for Librarians (Berkman Ctr. for Internet & Soc'y at Harv. U., Mar. 24, 2010).
Categories:
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
,
Property Law
Sub-Categories:
Comparative Law
,
Intellectual Property - Copyright
Type: Other
William W. Fisher, When Should We Permit Differential Pricing of Information?, 55 UCLA L. Rev. 1 (2007).
Categories:
Property Law
,
Consumer Finance
,
Technology & Law
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Consumer Protection Law
,
Law & Public Policy
,
Intellectual Property - Copyright
,
Intellectual Property - Patent & Trademark
,
Intellectual Property Law
,
Science & Technology
,
Information Commons
Type: Article
William W. Fisher & Talha Syed, Global Justice in Healthcare: Developing Drugs for the Developing World, 40 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 581 (2007).
Categories:
Legal Profession
,
Health Care
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
,
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
,
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Law & Public Policy
,
Food & Drug Law
,
Developing & Emerging Nations
,
Legal Reform
,
Science & Technology
Type: Article
William W. Fisher, Two Thoughts about Traditional Knowledge, Law & Contemp. Probs. Spring 2007, at 131.
Categories:
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
,
Environmental Law
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
,
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Native American & Tribal Law
,
Natural Resources Law
,
Land Use
,
International Law
,
Intellectual Property Law
Type: Article
Abstract
Fisher argues the traditional knowledge of environmentalism and the public domain ideas by presenting two combined related themes involving the British colonist of Native Americans. The idea of devaluing the Indian's nonacquisitive, natural, respectful way of living lightly upon the land while conserving it, and fostering imperialism and unjust conquest. Among other things, he formulates three parallel provisions to the TRIPS Agreement to increase the leverage of the countries in determining the terms on which flora, fauna, medicinal knowledge, folklore, and traditional art forms are exploited by others.
William W. Fisher & Jacqueline Harlow, Film and Media Studies and the Law of the DVD, Cinema J., Spring 2006, at 118.
Categories:
Technology & Law
,
Property Law
,
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Sub-Categories:
Arts & Entertainment Law
,
Intellectual Property - Copyright
,
Intellectual Property Law
Type: Article
The Canon of American Legal Thought (David W. Kennedy & William W. Fisher eds., Princeton Univ. Press 2006).
Categories:
Legal Profession
,
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Sub-Categories:
Legal Theory & Philosophy
,
Legal & Political Theory
Type: Book
Abstract
This anthology presents, for the first time, full texts of the twenty most important works of American legal thought since 1890. Drawing on a course the editors teach at Harvard Law School, the book traces the rise and evolution of a distinctly American form of legal reasoning. These are the articles that have made these authors--from Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., to Ronald Coase, from Ronald Dworkin to Catherine MacKinnon--among the most recognized names in American legal history.
William W. Fisher, The Growth of Intellectual Property: A History of the Ownership of Ideas in the United States, in 1 Intellectual Property Rights: Critical Concepts in Law 72 (David Vaver ed., 2006).
Categories:
Legal Profession
,
Property Law
Sub-Categories:
Legal History
,
Property Rights
,
Intellectual Property - Copyright
,
Intellectual Property - Patent & Trademark
Type: Book
William W. Fisher, Property and Power in American Legal History, in The History of Law in a Multi-Cultural Society (Ron Harris et al. eds., 2002).
Categories:
Legal Profession
,
Property Law
Sub-Categories:
Legal History
,
Property Rights
Type: Book
William W. Fisher, The Impact of Terminator Gene Technologies on Developing Countries: A Legal Analysis, in Biotechnology, Agriculture, and the Developing World: The Distribution Implications of Technological Change 137 (Timothy M. Swanson ed., 2002).
Categories:
Environmental Law
,
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
,
Property Law
,
Health Care
,
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Agriculture Law
,
Food & Drug Law
,
Developing & Emerging Nations
,
Property Rights
,
Science & Technology
,
Intellectual Property Law
Type: Book
William W. Fisher, Theories of Intellectual Property, in New Essays in the Legal and Political Theory of Property 168 (Stephen R. Munzer ed., 2001).
Categories:
Property Law
Sub-Categories:
Property Rights
,
Intellectual Property - Copyright
,
Intellectual Property - Patent & Trademark
Type: Book
William W. Fisher, Geistiges Eigentum - ein ausufernder Rechtsbereich: Die Geschichte des Ideenschutzes den Vereinigten Staaten [The Growth of Intellectual Property: A History of the Ownership of Ideas in the United States], in Eigentum im internationalen Vergleich 265 (Hannes Siegrist & David Sugarman eds., 1999).
Categories:
Property Law
,
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
Legal History
,
Property Rights
,
Intellectual Property - Copyright
,
Intellectual Property - Patent & Trademark
Type: Book
William W. Fisher, Interpreting Holmes, 110 Harv. L. Rev. 1010 (1997).
Categories:
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
Legal History
,
Legal & Political Theory
,
Biography & Tribute
Type: Article
William W. Fisher, Ideology and Imagery in the Law of Slavery, in Slavery & the Law 43 (Paul Finkelman ed., 1997).
Categories:
Legal Profession
,
Property Law
,
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Race & Ethnicity
,
Legal Theory & Philosophy
,
Legal History
,
Property Rights
Type: Book
William W. Fisher, Stories about Property, 94 Mich. L. Rev. 1776 (1996) (reviewing Carol M. Rose, Property and Persuasion: Essays on the History, Theory, and Rhetoric of Ownership (1994)).
Categories:
Legal Profession
,
Property Law
Sub-Categories:
Legal & Political Theory
,
Legal History
,
Property Rights
Type: Article
William W. Fisher, Making Sense of Madison: Nedelsky on Private Property, 18 L. & Soc. Inquiry 547 (1993) (reviewing Jennifer Nedelsky, Private Property and the Limits of American Constitutionalism: The Madisonian Framework and Its Legacy (1990)).
Categories:
Legal Profession
,
Property Law
Sub-Categories:
Legal & Political Theory
,
Legal History
,
Property Rights
Type: Article
William W. Fisher, The Trouble with Lucas, 45 Stan. L. Rev. 1393 (1993).
Categories:
Property Law
,
Constitutional Law
Sub-Categories:
Fourteenth Amendment
,
Fifth Amendment
,
Property Rights
,
Eminent Domain
Type: Article
William W. Fisher, Ideology and Imagery in the Law of Slavery, 68 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 1051 (1993).
Categories:
Legal Profession
,
Property Law
,
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Race & Ethnicity
,
Legal Theory & Philosophy
,
Legal History
,
Property Rights
Type: Article
William W. Fisher, The Defects of Dualism, 59 U. Chi. L. Rev. 955 (1992) (reviewing Bruce Ackerman, We the People: Foundations (1991)).
Categories:
Legal Profession
,
Constitutional Law
Sub-Categories:
Fourteenth Amendment
,
Legal & Political Theory
,
Legal History
Type: Article
William W. Fisher, Book Review, 65 Bus. Hist. Rev. 169 (1991) (reviewing Liberty, Property, and the Future of Constitutional Development (Ellen Frankel Paul & Howard Dickman eds., 1990)).
Categories:
Property Law
,
Constitutional Law
Sub-Categories:
Fourteenth Amendment
,
Property Rights
Type: Article
William W. Fisher, Webster's Legal Legacy, 18 Revs. Am. Hist. 44 (1990) (reviewing Alfred S. Konefsky & Andrew J. King eds., The Papers of Daniel Webster vol. 1, 2 & 3 (1982, 1983 & 1989).
Categories:
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
Legal History
,
Biography & Tribute
Type: Article
William W. Fisher, Ideology, Religion, and the Constitutional Protection of Private Property, 1760-1860, 39 Emory L. J. 65 (1990).
Categories:
Legal Profession
,
Property Law
,
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
,
Constitutional Law
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Fifth Amendment
,
Race & Ethnicity
,
Religion & Law
,
Law & Political Theory
,
Legal History
,
Legal & Political Theory
,
Property Rights
Type: Article
William W. Fisher, The Jurisprudence of Justice Marshall, 6 Harv. Blackletter J. 131 (1989).
Categories:
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
Legal & Political Theory
,
Legal History
,
Biography & Tribute
Type: Article
William W. Fisher, The Significance of Public Perceptions of the Takings Doctrine, 88 Colum. L. Rev. 1774 (1988).
Categories:
Legal Profession
,
Property Law
,
Constitutional Law
Sub-Categories:
Fifth Amendment
,
Legal & Political Theory
,
Property Rights
,
Eminent Domain
Type: Article
William W. Fisher, Reconstructing the Fair Use Doctrine, 101 Harv. L. Rev. 1659 (1988).
Categories:
Property Law
Sub-Categories:
Intellectual Property - Copyright
Type: Article
Abstract
The fair use doctrine, codified at 17 U. S. C. § 107, permits a court to excuse a putatively infringing use of copyrighted material when the circumstances surrounding the use make it "fair." In this Article, Professor Fisher criticizes the doctrine - and in particular the changes wrought by two recent Supreme Court decisions - and considers how it might be improved. The most serious of the many problems with current fair use jurisprudence, he maintains, is that it rests on considerations derived from four disparate philosophic traditions; this incoherent foundation makes the application of the doctrine unpredictable and aggravates the cacophony of contemporary legal argumentation. To alleviate these problems, Professor Fisher considers two alternative strategies for reconstructing the field. First, he examines fair use from an economic standpoint, arguing that, by comparing the various entitlements that might be accorded copyright owners in terms of the incentives they provide for creativity and the costs they impose on consumers, courts could employ the doctrine to increase efficiency in the use of scarce resources. Second, building on a discussion of the limitations of the economic approach, Professor Fisher deploys a "utopian" analysis of fair use, suggesting how the doctrine might be recast to incorporate particular conceptions of the "good life" and the "good society." So formulated, the fair use doctrine would contribute to the realization of a more just social order and a more integrated legal discourse.
William W. Fisher, Intellectual Property and Innovation: Theoretical, Empirical and Historical Perspectives, in Industrial Property, Innovation, and the Knowledge-Based Economy (Anthony Arundel et al. eds, 2002).
Categories:
Legal Profession
,
Property Law
,
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Legal Reform
,
Property Rights
,
Intellectual Property - Copyright
,
Intellectual Property - Patent & Trademark
,
Science & Technology
,
Intellectual Property Law
Type: Book
William W. Fisher, Legal Theory and Legal Education, 1920–2000, in 3 The Cambridge History of Law in America 34 (MIchael Grossberg & Christopher Tomlins eds., 2008).
Categories:
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
Legal History
,
Legal & Political Theory
,
Legal Education
Type: Book
Testimony of William W. Fisher, In the Matter of Digital Performance Rights in Sound Recordings and Ephemeral Recordings, Docket No. 2000-9 CARP DTRA 1 & 2 (Copyright Arb. Royalty Panel Feb. 20, 2002).
Categories:
Technology & Law
,
Property Law
,
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Sub-Categories:
Arts & Entertainment Law
,
Intellectual Property - Copyright
,
Intellectual Property Law
Type: Presentation
Abstract
Two rounds of written and oral testimony before the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel, In the Matter of Digital Performance Rights in Sound Recordings and Ephemeral Recordings.

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