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Charles Nesson

William F. Weld Professor of Law, Harvard Law SchoolFounder and Director, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Following the practice of my colleagues David Weinberger, Larry Lessig, Terry Fisher, and John Palfrey, and Jonathan Zittrain, I am in compliance with my employer Harvard Law School's disclosure and conflict of interest policies, and will remain so.

I am currently pro bono counsel to and advocate for Joel Tenenbaum in his effort to question the constitutionality of the riaa's statutory damage campaign against individuals sharing music peer to peer.

I am a public advocate for poker, a member of the boards of the United States Poker Federation and the United States Mind Sport Association, and founder of the Global Poker Strategic Thinking Society, which received initial funding in 2007 from Russ Deleon, hls'91, the founder of Party Gaming.

Charles Nesson
September 2011

As an undergraduate I took a course on the Univac One, 1958. The final assignment was to program the machine to sort a list or words alphabetically. This was before silicon chips and computer language. The Univac was built with stacks of vacuum tubes that occupied a large room and looked just like the stacks in a library, except the shelves were filled with vacuum tubes instead of books. We controlled the machine from a separate control room that looked like the deck of the Starship Enterprise. We wrote our instructions to the machine in strings of one's and zero's. For our exam, we had twenty minutes at the controls to debug our program and run it on a test list. Our grade depended, first, on whether our program worked, and then, second, on our program's elegance, measured by the time our program took to sort the list.

My next real engagement with computers came in 1981, when, on my first sabbatical, I moved my family to the seashore of Long Island, accompanied by one of the first edition IBM PC's. In my spare time there I wrote a computer program in BASIC that played an excellent game of five-card draw jacks-or-better poker, the rights to which I sold for a pile of money to a company which, I am sad to say, was subsequently indicted for manufacturing illegal gambling equipment. The BASIC language, circa 1981, included the word "SORT" among its verbs. Coming upon it was like meeting an old friend, now part of a whole useful language built of ones and zeros. If I could make a word from digits, and a generation later use such words to program a computer that could bluff me out, then, perhaps in a future generation, I would be able to use the power of the new language to liven up my classes.

Professor Nesson's full bio


Projects & Tools

Berkman Online Lecture and Discussion (BOLD) Series

We offer computer-mediated seminars through our interactive Berkman Online Lecture and Discussion (BOLD) series. Topics have included intellectual property and privacy on the… More

Digital Discovery

A project to explore, develop, and educate on discovery in the digital sphere... More

Digital Media Project (DMP)

The goal of the Digital Media Project is not to advance a simple agenda but instead to help educate stakeholders – government officials, the media, artists, businesspeople, and… More

Internet Law Program (iLaw)

Taught by world-renowned experts in the field, the Berkman Klein Center’s Internet Law Program addresses the most pressing cyberlaw issues being debated by lawmakers in the U.S… More

Jamaica Project

True to the Berkman Klein Center’s expansive interest in the interaction between internet and society, the Jamaica project’s mission centers on the use of the internet to shape,… More

Mindsport Research Network

The Mindsport Research Network aims to build multiple experimental frameworks for understanding human strategic thinking in mind sports. Research will extend not only to… More

Open ePolicy Group

We formed the Open ePolicy Group in February 2005 with members from every region of the world to share insights from governments, companies and organizations at the forefront of… More

Openlaw

[Berkman Project 2001-2002] Openlaw is an experiment in crafting legal argument in an open forum. More

The Bridge

The Bridge is divided into two major parts: a six-unit series on legal reasoning, and a series of modules on American Legal Theory, divided into six "tracks" representing… More

The Judicial Gatekeeping Project

The seminar's focus is on the "gate-keeping" role of judges. Ever since the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Daubert v. Richardson Merrill-Dow in 1993, questions have… More


Publications

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Privacy (iLaw module)

Though it brings us many benefits, the march of technology makes an encompassing surveillance network seem almost inevitable, and radically changes our expectations of privacy More

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Cybercrime (iLaw module)

"Cybercrime" is not a rigorously defined concept. For our purposes, consider it to embrace criminal acts that can be accomplished while sitting at a computer keyboard. Such acts… More

Thursday, May 31, 2018

IP Imperialism

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Amicus Brief: Capitol et al v. Noor Alaujan

For the foregoing reasons, amici suggest that the Court to exercise caution in regard to any aggregate treatment of Defendants and to consider reduced awards in light of the… More

Thursday, May 20, 1999

Open Code / Open Content / Open Law: Building a Digital Commons

Strategic Planning Session Paper

The Berkman Center proposed the formation of a legally independent nonprofit entity - a consortium of educational centers to foster the development of open software, open research… More

Tuesday, Apr 1, 1997

Borders in Cyberspace: Information Policy and the Global Information Infrastructure

The contributors to this collection of essays wrestle with the emerging questions posed by a medium that defies national boundaries in ways previously unknown and woefully… More


News

Sunday, Feb 18, 2018

John Perry Barlow and the Foundational Values of the Net

an interview with Charles Nesson

Berkman Klein Center Founder and Director Charles Nesson shares his thoughts on how John Perry Barlow helped build the values of the Internet. More

Thursday, Sep 10, 2015

Spotlight on the Berkman Question Tool

A simple web tool spurs discussion and buy-in

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society has taken the best of online forums and crowdsourcing to offer a simple web tool for online or blended discussion. The Berkman Question… More

Saturday, Aug 22, 2015

Let's make a Boston-led discussion on the future of global sport the legacy of Boston's 2024 Olympic bid.

by Charles Nesson

Boston's Olympic bid spurred a remarkable community deliberation. It gave us a chance to talk about our visions for sports and the city. The discussions were exciting, and we felt… More

Tuesday, Jan 15, 2013

Symposium at HLS marks launch of global network of interdisciplinary centers focused on the Internet and society

On Dec. 6-8, 2012, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, together with seven international co-organizers, hosted a symposium at Harvard Law School titled Internet-Driven… More

Monday, Nov 14, 2011

John Palfrey's Next Chapter: Onward to the Phillips Academy!

The directors of the Berkman Center wish to extend our warmest congratulations to John Palfrey, our colleague and friend, upon his appointment as the Head of School of the… More

Friday, Sep 24, 2010

Radio Berkman 164: The University in Cyberspace

This week on Radio Berkman: Charles Nesson reprises June's COMMUNIA conference, "Reshaping Knowledge Institutions for the Networked Age," and muses University's future, with David… More

Wednesday, Feb 11, 2009

Happy birthday, eon!

Today, Berkman Center Founder, Faculty Co-Director, and Harvard Law Professor Charles Nesson turns 70! More

Tuesday, Nov 18, 2008

Nesson, CyberOne, and the RIAA

Berkman Center founder Charles Nesson and his CyberOne class are moving forward with their case against the RIAA... More

Friday, Apr 11, 2008

John Perry Barlow looking back on an Internet decade

Find your headphones and grab a seat, maybe skip the popcorn this week. As part of the Berkman Center’s ongoing tenth anniversary celebration, Berkman@10, we’re retrieving some… More

Friday, Apr 4, 2008

Charles Nesson advances University in a Google world

Find a comfortable chair and pop the corn. As part of the Berkman Center’s ongoing tenth anniversary celebration, Berkman@10, we’re retrieving some classics from our multimedia… More


Courses

Advanced Topics in Evidence - Fall 2018

The epistemology of legal, scientific, and political truth. We will consider proof by witness, proof by expert, proof by statistics and CSI, and the relationship of truth to… More

Advanced Topics in Evidence - Spring 2018

The epistemology of legal, scientific, and political truth. We will consider proof by witness, proof by expert, proof by statistics and CSI, and the relationship of truth to… More

JuryX Workshop - Winter 2018

The class will consider issues of law, race, class and gender. You will explore the concept of jury in both theory and practice. More

Fair Trial - Spring 2018

No jury exists without bias or context. The American jury is designed as a “black box” that we push facts into and expect a fair decision from. But what makes a trial, and thus a… More

Human and Community Rights: Pursuing Justice for Indigenous People - Fall 2017 - Spring 2018

How can an indigenous group successfully assert legal and human rights nationally and internationally? From intellectual and real property to religious and cultural claims, this… More

Fair Trial - Spring 2016

We begin with the concept of justice -- both substantive and procedural. We ground our discussions in the The Bill of Rights -- in its concepts of liberty, freedom, public domain,… More

JuryX: Deliberations for Social Change - Winter 2016

The class will consider campus issues of law, race, class and gender. You will explore the concept of jury in both theory and practice. You will learn about the jury in political… More

American Jury – Fall 2014

With mythic origins in Magna Carta, a history intimately connected with struggles for liberty, cornerstone of constitutions of the states and United States of America, the… More

Internet and Society – Fall 2014

Our class will engage in understanding and building a public realm in cyberspace. Dedicated to the memory of Aaron Swartz, we will consider the history of the Internet, its… More

Internet and Society - Fall 2013

Our class will engage in understanding and building a public realm in cyberspace. Dedicated to the memory of Aaron Swartz, we will consider the history of the Internet, its… More

American Jury - Fall 2013

Our class will engage the jury as history and practice. We will find it sick, institutionally speaking, weakened by racism wrapped in legalism, and urgently in need of competent… More

Evidence - Spring 2013

This course examines basic rules and principles of evidence law. It focuses on American federal law (the Federal Rules of Evidence and cases interpreting them) but also covers… More

American Jury (The) - Spring 2013

This class will engage the American Jury as history and practice. More

Evidence - Fall 2012

This course examines basic rules and principles of evidence law. It focuses on American federal law (the Federal Rules of Evidence and cases interpreting them) but also covers… More

The American Jury - Spring 2012

Our class will engage the jury as history and practice. More

Evidence - Spring 2012

Following the arc of the Federal Rules of Evidence, we explore the nature of legal proof and persuasion in the context of the American jury trial. More

Public Domain and the American Ideal: Reading Group - Fall 2011

In this reading group we will study two aspects of online liberty. More

Evidence - Fall 2011

Following the arc of the Federal Rules of Evidence, we explore the nature of legal proof and persuasion in the context of the American jury trial. More

The American Jury - Spring 2011

Our class will engage the jury as history and practice. More

Evidence - Spring 2011

Following the arc of the Federal Rules of Evidence, we explore the nature of legal proof and persuasion in the context of the American jury trial. More

Evidence - Winter 2010

Nesson's Winter Evidence takes you on an exploration of the nature of legal proof and persuasion in the context of an American jury trial. More

The American Jury - Spring 2010

With mythic origins in Magna Carta, a history intimately connected with historic struggles for liberty, cornerstone of constitutions of the states and United States of America,… More

The American Jury - Spring 2009

Our class will engage the American Jury both as history and living institution, sick and in need. More

Evidence - Winter 2009

Nesson's Winter Evidence takes you on an exploration of the nature of legal proof and persuasion in the context of an American jury trial. More

CyberOne: Law in the Court of Public Opinion - Fall 2008

This year's Cyberone will begin with empathic argument and programming from scratch, then segue immediately to projects. More

CyberOne: Law in the Court of Public Opinion

This year's Cyberone will begin with empathic argument and programming from scratch, then segue immediately to projects. More

Freedom: Seminar - Spring 2008

This seminar will ask the ultimately unanswerable questions about the nature of freedom and how we handle it. More

Evidence - Winter 2008

We study the process and law of proof in American jury trial. Within that frame, we explore the nature of truth, perception, memory, credibility, clarity, relevance, prejudice,… More

Trials in Second Life: Seminar - Fall 2007

In this seminar we will do mock trials in Second Life. More

CyberOne: Law in the Court of Public Opinion - Fall 2007

This year's Cyberone will begin with empathic argument and programming from scratch, then segue immediately to projects. More

Evidence - Winter 2007

Evidence--the law, logic, philosophy and practice of argument and proof as instruments of dispute resolution. What are the functions and limitations of trial? How does our trial… More

CyberOne: Law in the Court of Public Opinion - Fall 2006

This year's Cyberone will begin with empathic argument and programming from scratch, then segue immediately to projects. Projects will include furthering work already ongoing, as… More

CyberStrategy: Law and Emotion: Reading Group - Fall 2006

Urs and I are interested in identifying and discussing both analytical and constructive principles that might be derived fro+m various bodies of knowledge, including knowledge… More

Digital Democracy - Fall 2003

Over the past 15 years, digital information and communication networks have spread rapidly across the globe, bringing with them hopes for, and claims of, fundamental change in the… More

Internet Law 2003: Program of Instruction for Lawyers

The Internet is maturing. With it, the laws and the norms that surround the use of Internet technologies have less of an edgy feel than they did just a few years ago. Yet much of… More

Counsel to the Internet Client: Practical Advice, Strategy and Litigation - Fall 2001

This semester, we will explore the nuts and bolts of advising and defending Internet-related businesses, organizations and individuals. With the help of practicing cyberlawyers… More

The Exploding Internet - Spring 2000

The Exploding Internet - Spring 2000 More

The Exploding Internet: Building A Global Commons in Cyberspace - Summer 2000

The Exploding Internet: Building A Global Commons in Cyberspace - Summer 2000 More

Evidence - Winter 1999

Evidence-Truth-Internet: January 1999 More

Evidence - Winter 1998

Evidence - Winter 1998 More

Torts - Fall 1997

Torts - Fall 1997 More

Business and the Internet: Strategy, Law, and Policy - Spring 1997

This graduate seminar is jointly presented by the Schools of Business, Government, and Law. By exploring specific firms or industries we will examine strategic choices that… More

Law, Internet & Society - Fall 1996

Law, Internet & Society - Fall 1996 More

Torts - Fall 1996

Torts - Fall 1996 More


Events

Feb 28, 2017 @ 12:00 PM

Five Global Challenges and the Role of University

Berkman Faculty Associate, Juan Carlos De Martin with Berkman Klein founder, Charlie Nesson

Five global, complex, interrelated and to some extent unprecedented challenges: in the coming years what can universities do to support society in addressing them? More

Nov 20, 2013 @ 7:00 PM

When to Blow the Whistle? A discussion on the role of whistleblowers in society

Hosted by the Allston Ed Portal, Charlie Nesson, and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society

Snowden, Manning, Assange, Ellsberg — the whistleblower — When is that you? When in your life might you be tempted to blow the whistle? More

Dec 5, 2011 @ 6:00 PM

The Fate of Civic Education in a Connected World

A "Fred Friendly" Seminar

Civic education is the cultivation of knowledge and traits that sustain democratic self-governance. The broad agreement that civic education is important disintegrates under close… More

Sep 6, 2011 @ 6:30 PM

[September 6] Berkman Center Fall 2011 Open House

Come to the Berkman Center for Internet & Society’s Open House to meet our faculty, fellows, and staff, and to learn about the many ways you can get involved in our dynamic,… More

May 17, 2011 @ 12:30 PM

The Post-Humboldtian University: Re-thinking the University's Role in Society in the Network Age

Juan Carlos de Martin, Co-Founder and Co-Director of the NEXA Center for Internet & Society at Politecnico di Torino & Charles Nesson, Berkman Center for Internet & Society

Juan Carlos de Martin, Co-Founder and Co-Director of the NEXA Center for Internet & Society at Politecnico di Torino, will speak at the Berkman Center Luncheon Series: How should… More

Sep 7, 2010 @ 6:00 PM

Berkman Center Fall 2010 Open House

Come to our Open House to meet Berkman faculty, fellows, and staff and to learn about the Center's current activities and ways you can get involved... More

Nov 12, 2008 @ 6:00 PM

Second Life: Open Education and Virtual Worlds

Charles and Rebecca Nesson

Professor Charles Nesson and Rebecca Nesson will introduce and present on Second Life in the context of Open Education. More

Event Series

Beyond Broadcast 2007: From Participatory Culture to Participatory Democracy

For 50 years broadcast media have played a powerful role in shaping political culture and mediating citizen engagement in the democratic process. Now a participatory culture is… More

Feb 20, 2007 @ 12:30 PM

Rehabilitation and Restorative Justice in Jamaica

Charles Nesson and Kevin Wallen

Charles Nesson and Kevin Wallen on "Rehabilitation and Restorative Justice in Jamaica." More

Dec 12, 2006 @ 12:30 PM

How Open Will Harvard Be to Internet & Society?

Charles Nesson, Berkman Center Founder

Charles Nesson spoke about his hopes for Harvard in "How Open Will Harvard Be to Internet & Society?" More

Sep 12, 2006 @ 12:30 PM

CyberOne: Teaching and Learning in Mixed Realities

Professor Charles Nesson and Rebecca Nesson

Professor Charles Nesson and Rebecca Nesson discussed a new course they are teaching called "CyberOne" combining in-classroom instruction with coursework in Second Life, a 3-D… More

Jan 23, 2006 @ 12:30 PM

Jamaica & Restorative Justice

Charlie Nesson & Members of his Evidence Class

Charles Nesson & members of his Evidence class on their Jamaica work & restorative justice focusing out countries hurt by globalization. More

Dec 9, 2004 @ 12:00 AM

Internet & Society Conference 2004 (IS2k4): Votes, Bits, and Bytes

The Internet & Society 2004 conference, entitled "Votes, Bits, and Bytes," took place on December 9 - 11, 2004, on the Harvard campus. More

Sep 15, 2004 @ 12:00 AM

Internet Law Colloquium: The Future of Digital Media: Alternative Compensation Systems or Speedbumps?

Internet Law Colloquium: 15 September: William Fisher and Charles Nesson (Harvard Law School) debate The Future of Digital Media: Alternative Compensation Systems or Speedbumps?… More