I’m posting this disclosure to set forth the things that I think readers of this site, and my work overall, ought to know about some of my biases and about things that I will and won’t do on this site with respect to these biases.

No one pays me to write this blog, nor will I agree to blog anything here for payment.

Most of my time and focus is geared toward my work as president of the MacArthur Foundation.  To the extent that you are interested in my academic biases, I would point you to the elements of the Berkman Center’s mission.  (I was previously executive director of the Berkman Center and a faculty director.)  I strive to be an objective researcher and teacher, but of course I adopt certain normative viewpoints on the issues that I write about here.

I also have “outside activities” beyond my MacArthur Foundation-related obligations. For instance, from time to time, a book or article that I write may generate royalties (again, never this blog, though). I also participate, and have participated, in various companies and non-profit organization as a board member, adviser, and/or investor. For instance, I have chaired the board of the Knight Foundation and was involved in setting up the Digital Public Library of America.  I also have a modest number of not-very-valuable stock holdings in other private and public technology companies — sadly, nowhere near the “5% beneficial owners of a publicly traded security” threshold that the SEC sets forth — mostly through ordinary mutual funds.

A special note on patents, a/k/a my Personal Patent Profits Pledge: this disclosure doesn’t have to do with this blog exactly, but about the activities of some of the companies in which I have an equity interest which may end up holding patents related to information and communications technologies. I support the reform of the patent system. To the extent that I personally profit from the straight exploitation of patent claims that issue to any of these companies in a manner not consonant with my own beliefs (I get to be the judge of that!), I intend to contribute those profits to the Berkman Center or a similarly suitable institution to support the study of patent reform. I also intend to advocate, to the extent appropriate and as consistent with fiduciary duties, for the use of creative, low- or no-cost licensing regimes, especially to support use in the .edu and .org domains.

I promise not (knowingly) to promote any given product or service on this site, whether or not I have any interest in such products or services. If ever I think that I ought to disclose a specific conflict, I will do so inline within a given blog entry, article, or other writing, in the standard academic disclosures convention.  As David W puts it in his fine disclosure, (which is admittedly a model for this one): “All I can promise is that I will be honest with you and never write something I don’t believe in because someone is paying me as part of a relationship you don’t know about. Put differently: All I’ll hide are the irrelevancies.”  I also think that Lawrence Lessig has gotten it right with his “NC principle” on his disclosure page.  If I ever have anything of a close call, I’ll look to his principle as a guiding light.  And when in doubt, I’ll err on the side of disclosing more, not less.

If you have any questions about my disclosures, which I will update from time to time, please feel free to write to me at the MacArthur Foundation. (Up-to-date as of Spring 2020.)

12 thoughts on “Disclosures

  1. […] I know, you’re wondering what in the world that has to do with transparency. Well, check out the link Palfrey provides at the bottom of his post. It is a link to his disclosures page. He offers it because he is involved with the Top Ten Sources project. The disclosure is quite inclusive, too. This, I believe, may serve well to show how such a link could appear in any post where the author has a stake in something she/he writes about in their blogs. […]

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