Oct. 8 / James Grimmelmann on Sealand and HavenCo: A New Interpretation

You are cordially invited to a special Yale ISP speaker series featuring James Grimmelmann, Associate Professor at New York Law School and a Yale ISP Affiliated Fellow. James will discuss Sealand and HavenCo: A New Interpretation on October 8 at 11:30 a.m. in Room 121 of Yale Law School.

Sealand and HavenCo: A New Interpretation

Sealand is stranger than fiction. This former World War II gunnery platform seven miles off the English coast calls itself the "smallest country on earth." It achieved worldwide fame in 2000, when it became the home of Internet startup HavenCo, which offered the ultimate in literally offshore data hosting. By promising a regulation-free "data haven," HavenCo posed a brainteaser about power and jurisdiction what happens to national policies and boundaries when the bits could be anywhere?

The surprisingly little-known answer is “not much.” Ten years on, HavenCo is defunct, and although occasional Internet scofflaws make noises about moving to Sealand, the country has reverted to quirky obscurity. This talk will revisit the parts of Sealand and HavenCo's history that never made the cyberlaw books, and use that history to reflect on the nature of law in an Internet age. HavenCo lost at the game of regulatory arbitrage, not because it was unable to escape the rule of law, but because it escaped the rule of law all too well.

About James Grimmelmann

James Grimmelmann is Associate Professor at New York Law School and a member of its Institute for Information Law and Policy. He received his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was Editor-in-Chief of LawMeme and a member of the Yale Law Journal. Prior to law school, he received an A.B. in computer science from Harvard College and worked as a programmer for Microsoft. He has served as a Resident Fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale, as a legal intern for Creative Commons and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and as a law clerk to the Honorable Maryanne Trump Barry of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

He studies how the law governing the creation and use of computer software affects individual freedom and the distribution of wealth and power in society. As a lawyer and technologist, he aims to help these two groups speak intelligibly to each other. He writes about intellectual property, virtual worlds, search engines, online privacy, and other topics in computer and Internet law. Recent publications include The Internet Is a Semicommons, 78 Fordham L. Rev. 2799 (2010), Saving Facebook, 94 Iowa L. Rev. 1137 (2009), and The Ethical Visions of Copyright Law, 77 Fordham L. Rev. 2005 (2009).

He has been blogging since 2000 at the Laboratorium. His home page is at http://james.grimmelmann.net/.