Harvard Law School Berkman Center for Internet & Society The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School

Berkman Center Funding & Support Policies

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society was founded in 1997 with a generous gift from Jack N. and Lillian R. Berkman. Over the past decade the Berkman Center has received financial support from foundations, corporations, private donors, international organizations, and government entities. These relationships are vital to the pursuit of our ambitious educational and public interest goals.

We are committed to autonomy in our research and transparency in our relationships. These traits are essential to our continued credibility and success as an institution.  Our funding model is possible due to the robust, strict, and clear policies that govern our association with donors and preserve the Berkman Center’s intellectual independence.

Our research and outreach modes depend substantially on being able to convene and engage parties that span the spectrum of viewpoints, and for our research results to have impact, our work must not only be intellectually rigorous, but also fair and impartial. 

To that end, we do not accept grants that limit our ability to carry out research in the way we see fit – free of outside influence and consistent with our organizational mission and values.  We do not undertake research or accept funds at the request of outside organizations unless it is consistent with our existing research agenda, mission, and overall philosophy.  We are transparent about our funding sources, announcing the receipt of funds through our normal communication channels. 

All corporate donors agree to give their funds as unrestricted gifts, for which there is no contractual agreement and no promised products, results, or deliverables. We have experimented with different arrangements at times in the past and have come to believe that this is the most productive approach for both the Center and our donors.

Foundations, international organizations, government entities, and other non-private entities may offer unrestricted gifts, but in most cases they are required to offer grant funding for sponsored research.  The terms of these grants are set forth in contracts negotiated between the donor and Harvard’s Office of Sponsored Programs and include specific parameters such as budget guidelines, timelines, and deliverables.

These policies complement the relevant policies of Harvard Law School and Harvard University.  We will continue to review these policies to ensure that we are doing our utmost to maintain the integrity of the Berkman Center, our work, and our community.


Project Sponsors

Chilling Effects supports lawful online activity against the "chill" of unwarranted legal threats by documenting Cease & Desist notifications and informing recipients of their legal rights in response.

Sponsors: the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The Center for Citizen Media is an initiative aimed at helping to enable and encourage grassroots media, especially citizen journalism, at every level.

Sponsors: the Craig Newmark Philanthropic Trust, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Edelman Worldwide, WilmerHale LLP, the Philip L. Graham Fund, the McClatchy Company Foundation, and the Sunlight Foundation.

Citizen Media Law Project's central aim is to provide practical knowledge and tools for citizen journalists, including a legal guide and database of legal threats associated with online publication.

Sponsors: the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Digital Natives is a research project focused on exploring the impacts and possible bridges of the generational demarcation between those born into the digital age and those that have "immigrated."

Sponsors: the Berkman Center.

eInnovation and ICT Interoperability aims to achieve a better understanding of interoperability—that is, the ability of entities such as software, devices, or components to exchange information—in the ICT sector.

Sponsors: the Berkman Center, the Research Center for Information Law at the University of St. Gallen, and the Oxford Internet Institute.

Global Voices is a non-profit global citizens’ media project that seeks to aggregate, curate, and amplify the global conversation online - shining light on places and people other media often ignore.

Sponsors: the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Reuters, Hivos, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and Outblaze.

Internet & Democracy studies examples of where the Internet has been shown to promote democracy and the application of simple online tools that both support access to independent sources of information, as well as allow for responsible advocacy and debates with other citizens and local, regional, and national government representatives.

Sponsors: U.S. Department of State

The Jamaica Project focuses on the problems caused by globalization, exploring the thesis that networks based on communication and exchange of social and intellectual capital can help in rehabilitation of developing countries hurt by globalization.

Sponsors: the Berkman Center.

Net Dialogue and its additional effort, the Publius Project, work to shed light on international Net governance and spur public discourse on this emerging body of regulation.

Sponsors: the Berkman Center and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.

The OpenNet Initiative identifies and documents Internet filtering and surveillance to promote and inform wider public dialogue about such practices.

Sponsors: the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Open Society Institute, and the International Development Research Centre.

Public Radio Exchange is an online marketplace for distribution, review, and licensing of public radio programming, which creates more opportunities for diverse programming of exceptional quality, interest, and importance to reach more listeners.

Sponsors: the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford Foundation, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Open Society Institute, and the Surdna Foundation.

SocialPhysics is an open collaborative project, whose goal is to give people more control over their digital identities: their online identities, personal information and social relationships through both Open Source software development and community development.

Sponsors: the Berkman Center and Parity Communications.

StopBadware.org is a "Neighborhood Watch" campaign that seeks to provide reliable, objective information about downloadable applications in order to help consumers make better choices about what they download onto their computers.

Sponsors: Google, Inc., Lenovo, Sun Microsystems, VeriSign, and PayPal.