Friday, March 15, 2013
At St. Thomas: "Intellectual Property and Religious Thought" Conference; "Church and Digital Communications" Roundtable (April 4-5)
I'm excited to invite readers in the Twin Cities area (or even further away if you want!) to two upcoming events at St. Thomas on the important relationships among faith, justice, and issues concerning technology, creativity, digital communications, and intellectual property. They will take place on Thursday and Friday, April 4 and 5.
1. Symposium. April 5, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., School of Law Atrium: The UST Law Journal and the Terrence J. Murphy Institute are co-sponsoring "Intellectual Property and Religious Thought," a groundbreaking gathering of a dozen leading scholars from the U.S. and overseas. Brief symposium description:
Should life be owned? How does the right to life intersect with investors’ rights to profit from life-saving products? How should the law respond when genetically modified plants cross-fertilize with heirloom crops cultivated by subsistence farmers? Does a patent-holder’s ownership of a reproducing GMO extend to all that organism’s descendants? The long, rich, diverse traditions of religious thought concerning property rights and obligations has only begun to be applied to these questions. This ground-breaking conference will bring together legal scholars, bioethicists, and theologians/religion scholars from diverse traditions for an interdisciplinary discussion of intellectual property and how religious themes, practices, and communities may inform and shape its law, policy, and moral/social effects. The University of St. Thomas Law Journal and the Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law, and Public Policy are pleased to convene this symposium of scholars who are defining and developing this exciting new field of interdisciplinary research. The conference will take place in the Atrium on April 5, 8:30-4:30pm. For the complete list of speakers and topics and to register, go here.
2. Breakfast Roundtable. April 4, 8:30-9:30 a.m., Center for Catholic Studies, 2055 Summit Ave, UST St. Paul Campus. An informal breakfast roundtable with Marco Fioretti, a writer on information technology and its effect on individuals, the family, civil society, and the Church. Marco, who will be here from Rome to participate in the April 5 conference, is, among other things, founder of Eleutheros.org, a site and organization pursuing "a Catholic approach to information technology." See his website here. To attend the roundtable, please RSVP to Seanne Harris.
The topic of Marco's remarks will be as follows: “Formats and software are a crucial part of the message in digital communications. Is the Church prepared to handle them to spread her message in the most effective way?” Abstract:
The nature of our age demands that the Catholic Church produces documents, and communicates, digitally, more and more every year. So far, however, very little attention has been paid to whether the usual, mainstream tools that many others already use are, indeed, technically suitable for the Church. Or if mainstream legal formulas and licenses are the most effective ones. For example, if the official words of the Church are meant to be forever, does it make sense to convey them through files or digital channels that may become unusable in just a few years? If they are meant to reach everybody, shouldn't they be accessible from every computer? How will Catholics of 2100 be sure that an Encyclical or other similar documents, only available to them in digital form, are exactly the same words that came out of the Vatican one century earlier? The meeting explains why this is an ethical problem, NOT a technical problem that could be delegated to software professionals and forgotten, and suggests some practical ways to deal with it.
These should be two very rich events on issues of great current and future importance. Hope to see some of you there!