Jessica Silbey

Jessica Silbey is a Professor of Law at Northeastern University School of Law in Boston. She teaches in the areas of intellectual property and constitutional law and is an expert on the use of film to communicate about law.

Professor Silbey’s intellectual property research focuses on the empirical and humanistic dimensions of the legal regulation of creative and innovative work. Her recent book, The Eureka Myth: Creators, Innovators and Everyday Intellectual Property (Stanford University Press 2015), is changing the national conversation on intellectual property regulation, incentives and its relevance for local creative and innovative communities. Other publications include Progress Evaluated: A Qualitative Analysis of “Promoting Progress” through IP, in IP HANDBOOK (Halbert and David eds., Sage 2014); Patent Variation: Discerning Diversity Among Patent Functions, 45 Loy. U. Chi. L. Rev. 441 (2013); Comparative Tales of Origins and Access: The Future of Intellectual Property Law, 61 Case Wes. Res. L. R. 195 (2011), and Mythical Beginnings of Intellectual Property, 15 Geo. Mason L. R. 319 (2008).

Professor Silbey is currently working on a new book about the "domestication" of intellectual property -- how IP claims and practices in the 21st century are being anchored by diverse values and interests long-standing in other areas of law (equality, privacy and distributive justice) but not typically explained as justifications for IP regulation. Through diverse accounts of contemporary intellectual property disputes and practices, the book will explain how the domestication of IP through popular legal culture challenges IP law to make sense of itself as distinct and relevant in everyday terms keep pace with a rapidly evolving technological and connected culture.

Professor Silbey also writes and researches in the field of law and film, exploring how film is used as a legal tool and how it becomes an object of legal analysis. Representative publications include Law and Justice on the Small Screen (Hart 2012) (with Peter Robson); Picturing Moral Arguments in a Fraught Legal Arena: Fetuses, Phantoms and Ultrasounds, 16 Geo. J. Gender & Law (2016); Images In/Of Law, 57 N.Y.L.S. L. R. 171 (2012/2013); Evidence Verité and the Law of Film, 31 Cardozo L. R. 1257 (2010); Cross-Examining Film, 8 U. Md. J. Race, Religion & Gender & L. 101 (2009); Filmmaking in the Precinct House and the Genre of Documentary Film, 29 Colum. J. L. & Arts. 107 (2005); and Judges as Film Critics: New Approaches to Filmic Evidence, 39 Mich. J. L. Reform 493 (2004).

Jessica earned her BA from Stanford University and her JD and PhD (in comparative literature) from the University of Michigan.She is an affiliate fellow at Yale’s Information Society Project and for 2016-2017 an Affiliate Faculty at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Prior to teaching, she worked in the federal courts and in private practice focusing on intellectual property and reproductive rights.

Last updated

September 1, 2016