Sociotechnical researchers consider technologies in the context of an entire system and its associated human interactions. One important, yet often overlooked, part of this system is the role of law and other sources of rules. For example, the Internet has become a space for vast amounts of both social interaction and creativity—but with both of these comes uncertainty for the rules we should follow. What constitutes copyright infringement or unethical re-use of content? How do social norms regulate behavior, especially when formal rules are unclear? Drawing examples from fan fiction, social media, and research ethics, I’ll discuss the rules we follow (or don’t follow) when it comes to online content, and suggest how we might design for positive norms embedded into communities rather than imposing policies from the outside.
Casey Fiesler is an assistant professor and founding faculty in the Department of Information Science at University of Colorado Boulder. Armed with a PhD in Human-Centered Computing from Georgia Tech and a JD from Vanderbilt Law School, she primarily conducts research in the areas of online communities, law and ethics, social norms, and fandom. Her dissertation research focused on the role that copyright law plays in online creative communities. She is also a copyright activist (having interned at Creative Commons and currently part of the legal committee for the Organization for Transformative Works) and occasional commentator on issues related to women and technology. Her work has won Best Paper Awards and Honorable Mentions at CSCW and CHI, but she’s most Internet famous for remixing a book about Barbie.