Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic


Drone A-01The Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic is the leading clinical program in technology law and the public interest. Through hands-on, real-world work, the Clinic trains law and graduate students in public interest work on emerging technologies, privacy, intellectual property, free speech, consumer and citizen interests in technology deployment and design, creativity, innovation, and other information policy issues.

In this work, the Clinic pursues a dual mission: to support the public’s interest in technology law and policy, and to teach law students through real-world work, with live clients, on cutting-edge policy issues.

The Clinic’s affiliated faculty and staff support Clinic students and clients with world-class expertise ranging from patent and copyright law to electronic privacy and online speech.

Read about the Samuelson Clinic’s recent projects, events, and faculty news in our winter newsletter.

Interested students should review our information page and apply here.

Clinic Clients

Samuelson Clinic students regularly work with organizations at the forefront of law and technology policy in the public interest.  Past Clinic clients include:

  • ACLU of Northern California
  • Center for Democracy and Technology
  • Consumers Union
  • The Constitution Project
  • Creative Commons
  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation
  • The Mozilla Foundation
  • The National Alliance for Media Art and Culture
  • Public Knowledge
  • And numerous other individuals and organizations supporting citizens, consumers, and creative and innovative communities worldwide

See more…

Clinic Projects

The Clinic counsels public interest clients on intellectual property, online speech, and privacy issues, drafts briefs before various courts–including the U.S. Supreme Court, the California Supreme Court, federal and state trial and appellate courts–and participates in legislative and regulatory efforts to create sound technology policy.

Some recent Clinic projects:

  • Clinic files Federal Circuit brief of amicus curia in Oracle v. Google litigation on behalf of Software Innovators, Start-ups, and Investors. The Clinic recently filed a brief in an important copyright case before the Federal Circuit on behalf of a group of influential software innovators, start-ups, and investors. The question before the Federal Circuit is whether basic attributes of Application Programming Interfaces are copyrightable. The Clinic’s brief explains the importance of APIs in fueling interoperability, investment, and innovation in technology, and urges the Federal Circuit to uphold the trial court’s decision.  The list of amici includes Hattery, Foundry, Engine Advocacy, EDVentures, Mitch Kapor, Bob Glushko, Daniel Bricklin, and Tim O’Reilly, among others; the full list is available here. Clinic students Chris Civil and Michael Liu helped draft the brief.
  • Clinic Briefs and Argues Motion for Summary Judgment on Social Networking Privacy Before the Northern District of California. Clinic students working on behalf of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a series of Freedom of Information Act requests and a subsequent lawsuit to obtain federal law enforcement policies for using social networking sites for investigations, data collection, and surveillance. Students drafted and filed a comprehensive motion for summary judgment demanding records, ploughed through over 1000 pages of government response material, filed their reply, and—in the Spring of 2012— prepped and presented oral argument in the Northern District of California.Clinic Plays Key Role in Adoption of New Privacy Rules on Smart Grids by the California Public Utilities Commission
  • Clinic Plays Key Role in Adoption of New Privacy Rules on Smart Grids by the California Public Utilities Commission. The new smart meters being installed in homes around California and the country provide much more data on energy customers than ever before–up to 750 to 3000 data points per month per household. Energy usage information of this granularity can reveal specific household activities such as sleep, work, and travel habits and allows utilities and third parties with access to the information to “see” what is going on inside the home. On behalf of client Center for Democracy and Technology, Clinic students submitted several sets of formal comments—to the National Institute for Standards and Technology; the California Public Utilities Commission; the Federal Communications Commission; and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy—urging policy makers to encourage strong privacy for the “Smart Grid” and to issue privacy protecting regulations based on the Fair Information Practice principles. After multiple rounds of comments, the California Public Utilities Commission in 2011 adopted, in part, the Clinic and CDT’s privacy frameworks as part of rulemaking proceedings regulating the use of smart meters in California.
  • Clinic Files Second Circuit Brief in Youtube-Viacom Litigation. In the Spring of 2011, Clinic students helped draft and submit an amicus brief in the high-profile Viacom-Youtube copyright case before the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, on behalf of clients the National Alliance for Media Art and Culture and the Alliance for Community Media.  In the brief, the clinic explained to the court how Internet platforms such as YouTube have allowed independent artists, creators, and speakers to reach worldwide audiences to tell stories, particularly of those unrepresented in traditional media. The brief also explains the importance of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to protect independent artists from certain kinds of liability.
  • Clinic Files Comments Before the Copyright Office Regarding Smartphone “Jailbreaking.” In the fall of 2011, Clinic students working on behalf of EFF went to the United States Copyright Office to demand that consumers and innovators be able to use their smartphones, tablets, and video game consoles as they see fit, and not be locked in to one manufacturer or service provider’s business model. Students interviewed “homebrew” video game makers and others, and filed multiple rulemaking comments asking the Copyright Office to allow consumers, fans and hackers to “jailbreak” the locks on these devices and use them to build the new, innovative apps, games and programs that can only come from grassroots users.

The Clinic’s Projects and Cases and Resources and Publications pages include many other examples of past Clinic projects.