Gerardo Con Diaz - Pornography, Copyright, and the Online World

Dec 2021

In the 1990s, Playboy Enterprises launched several lawsuits aimed at stopping home Internet users from sharing the magazine's photographs with each other. At a time when popular online servers could be located in people's basements, these lawsuits caused courts, Internet service providers (ISPs), publishers, and everyday users to grapple with one of the most difficult questions in digital copyright at the time: who is to blame when unauthorized copyrighted material circulates online? While siding with Playboy and its allies, courts started ruling that ISPs could be liable for all of their users' online copyright infringements. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1998) changed this situation, and the Playboy lawsuits are quickly becoming a forgotten chapter in Internet history among judges and litigants. This talk recovers their history by examining a wealth of court records, interviews, trade literature, and archives for online user groups and email lists.

Event Speaker

Gerardo Con Diaz, Associate Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the University of California, Davis

Event Information

This event is free and open to the public, RSVP to receive Zoom link. This event is part of the New York History of Science Lecture Series.

Sponsoring Organizations

  • The University Seminars at Columbia University
  • Columbia University in the City of New York
  • NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study
  • The Graduate Center, City University of New York
  • The New York Academy of Medicine
  • The New York Academy of Sciences

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Event Contact

The Center for Science and Society

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