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Internet Spoken Here
The subject of this magazine's November-December 1997 "Harvard Portrait", Professor Lawrence Lessig, an expert on the law of cyberspace, alleged that "apart from my work, I haven't got a life." He hasn't made immediate progress in acquiring one. On December 11, U.S. district court judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, LL.B. '64, appointed Lessig a "special master" in the Department of Justice's antitrust case against Microsoft Corporation.
The company was famously founded by William H. Gates III '77, chairman and chief executive officer, and is often represented in public forums by Steven A. Ballmer '77, executive vice president. Rounding out the crimson cast is Joel I. Klein, J.D. '71, who as head of the Justice Department's antitrust division directs the government's case. At issue is Microsoft's joining of its Internet Explorer software with its Windows 95 operating system for personal computers.
Following Lessig's appointment, Microsoft--citing an e-mail message he wrote to competitor Netscape Communications Corporation, and other statements--asked him to step aside. Lessig declined. The company then formally asked Judge Jackson to remove him from the case for alleged bias. In a sharply worded opinion issued on January 14, the judge denied Microsoft's request, declaring it "trivial," "defamatory," and "not made in good faith." But on appeal, Microsoft on February 1 won an order suspending Lessig's review of evidence and his work on a report on the facts and "conclusions of law." His role in the case will be aired in court on April 21.
By that time, a mere Frisbee fling of a floppy disk across the law school quadrangle, construction of the Maxwell Dworkin building should be under way. The gift of Gates and Ballmer, the new computer sciences center will bear their mothers' maiden names.
In any event, the antitrust case will provide plenty of grist for the second international Harvard Conference on Internet and Society May 26-29, co-chaired by Lessig's law school colleagues Charles R. Nesson '60, LL.B. '63, and Charles J. Ogletree Jr., J.D. '78. (Information on the conference is available by telephone at 617- 432-1net, by e-mail at "[email protected]," or on its website, "http://cybercon98.harvard.edu".)
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