Our business models class with Jeffrey Cunard and Bruce Keller from Debevoise & Plimpton ran through a huge range of possible problems with the dominant hypothetical we’re using for the course this term. We also had a cameo, via IM, from a former Berkman Center favorite who now works at a leading technology concern who helped us flesh out some of the technical and legal issues involved in the hypo. The class may have left some people with a sense of disruption — we began to tear away at the hypo but didn’t resolve anything — but, if we do our work together well, we’ll have a good time putting things back together in a way that will at least be interesting, if not actually make sense at the end. We’ll talk about elements of the hypo as we go along in the course, but will also revisit it, explicitly and in detail, on the last day of the course. Also, one of the short written assignments in H2O, later in the term, will focus on the aspect of the hypo that you as a student choose to work on.
Some of the core topic areas we touched on, and will develop over time:
* Structuring questions relating to the entity that’s running this business model
* Concerns related to the gathering of information from websites and access controls
* Collection of information about users of our service
* Ways to deal with competitive services that may arise
* Intellectual property rights in or related to our service
* Content publication concerns
* Substantive copyright issues
* Pricing and competition with other pay services
* Tort law concerns
* E-commerce issues, such as taxation and use of digital signatures and online contracting
* Concerns specific to the ad-blocking part of our service
Students will choose to work on one of these topics and will develop a short (2 – 3 minute) presentation about the most pressing aspect of the chosen area and a proposal for how to handle it. This presentation will be written up for an H2O assignment and then presented in the final class, when our “clients” return to Cambridge.