Deven Desai joined the Scheller faculty in fall of 2014 in the Law and Ethics Program. Prior to joining Scheller, Professor Desai was an associate professor of law at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law. He was also the first, and to date, only Academic Research Counsel at Google, Inc., and a Visiting Fellow at Princeton University's Center for Information Technology Policy.
Professor Desai's scholarship examines how business interests, new technology, and economic theories shape privacy and intellectual property law and where those arguments explain productivity or where they fail to capture society's interest in the free flow of information and development. His work has appeared in leading law reviews and journals including the Georgetown Law Journal, Minnesota Law Review, Notre Dame Law Review, Wisconsin Law Review, U.C. Davis Law Review, Florida Law Review, and Brigham Young University Law Review.
Prior to becoming a professor, Desai has been a litigator handing intellectual property and technology matters with Quinn, Emanuel, Urquhart, & Sullivan, LLP, in-house counsel for an idealab! Internet infrastructure company, and part of policy and fundraising teams on the 2002 Cory Booker for Mayor campaign.
Professor Desai has been interviewed about 3D printing, intellectual property, privacy, and technology by the New York Times and the news show, Take Part Live. He blogs about technology, intellectual property, and privacy at Concurring Opinions and Madisonian.
He is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley with highest honors and the Yale Law School, where he was co-editor-in-chief of the Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities.
Areas of Expertise (5)
Intellectual Property Law
Yale Law School: J.D. 1997
University of California - Berkeley: B.A., Rhetoric 1993
Selected Articles (5)
The call for algorithmic transparency as a way to manage the power of new data-driven decision-making techniques misunderstands the nature of the processes at issue and underlying technology. Part of the problem is that the term, algorithm, is broad. It encompasses disparate concepts even in mathematics and computer science. Matters worsen in law and policy. Law is driven by a linear, almost Newtonian, view of cause and effect where inputs and defined process lead to clear outputs. In that world, a call for transparency has the potential to work. The reality is quite different. Real computer systems use vast data sets not amenable to disclosure. The rules used to make decisions are often inferred from these data and cannot be readily explained or understood. And at a deep and mathematically provable level, certain things, including the exact behavior of an algorithm, can sometimes not be tested or analyzed. From a technical perspective, current attempts to expose algorithms to the sun will fail to deliver critics’ desired results and may create the illusion of clarity in cases where clarity is not possible.
We live in a world of digitized things. Digitization changes any sector it touches. At first, skill and monetary costs limit the effect of those changes. But when the changes scale-in other words, when the costs drop and a wide range of businesses and people can use the power of digitization-business and legal realities shift dramatically. Disruption is not only a business or private matter; the underlying legal system is disrupted as well. 3D (or additive) printing brings the promise and challenge of digitization to tangible goods. Many copyright and trademark-based industries have faced digitization, but patent-based industries have not. Advances in 3D printing technology are launching an Industrial Counter-Revolution,'and the laws governing the way things are made will need to make peace with the reality of digitized objects and on-demand fabrication.
Protecting associational freedom is a core, independent yet unappreciated part of the Fourth Amendment. New surveillance techniques threaten that freedom. Surveillance is no longer primarly forward looking. Today, changing technology allows law enforcement and intelligence services to obtain the same, if not more, information about all of us by looking backward. This shift massively expands the government's ability to examine, investigate, and deter exercise of the freedom of association.
Should copyright extend after death? Over the last two centuries Congress has expanded copyright from a fourteen-year term (with a living author able to extend it for another fourteen years)'to the current term of the life of the author plus seventy years. 2 For most of copyright's history the term rarely extended beyond the author's life; today's term, however, spans several generations after the author's death.
Do you Yahoo!? Did you Google someone or something today? Use a Kleenex? If so, how did you understand the terms Yahoo!, Google, or Kleenex? Did they mean a general experience or product or did they signify a specific product or service? Maybe the significance depended on the context in which you used the term. If you were buying tissue, you may have meant specifically Kleenex,'or you may have used the term to mean any tissue, or you may have meant the term to be both. That is, you may have thought," I need Kleenex"(substituting the term for tissue), reached the aisle with tissues, and then discerned between Kleenex tissue and its competitors because at that point-the commercial point-the brand 2 mattered to you.