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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Can the taste of a cheese be copyrighted?

Copyright is an intellectual property right that vests in original works. We know that works like novels, paintings, photographs, sculptures, and songs are examples of what copyright law protects.But how far can copyright protection go? Can copyright protect, say, a perfume or the taste of a food product?

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Theranos and the cult of personality in science and tech

Elizabeth Holmes was a chemical engineering student who dropped out of Stanford to found Theranos: a silicon-valley start-up company that, at one point, was valued at US$9 billion. Her plan was to be another Steve Jobs. Today, she is facing fraud and other criminal charges.

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Is Trump’s assault on international law working?

For centuries, international law has functioned as an instrument of nation-states working in concert, acting out of a sense of legal obligation. Since World War II, this combination of state practice driven by legal obligation—in the form of both treaties and customary international law—has served as a prime mechanism for shaping and addressing complex global responses to pressing planetary challenges.

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Women in law: a legal timeline

In celebration of International Women’s Day, explore our interactive timeline detailing women’s legal landmarks throughout history. Covering from 1835, when married women’s property laws began to be reformed in America, through to future considerations on how the English judiciary system can continue to improve diversity, delve into the key milestones of women’s legal history. In […]

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Reflecting on gender justice

The Charter of the United Nations (signed in 1945), was the first international agreement to uphold the principle of equality between men and women. Since then there have been many significant achievements in the struggle for the international protection of women’s rights, most notably the United Nation’s landmark treaty the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the second most widely ratified human rights treaty in existence.

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Top ten developments in international law in 2018

This year was, once again, one of great political turmoil. The international legal order is not immune from the impact of the rise of populism and increasingly strained relations between many of the world’s most powerful states. A positive view is that we are witnessing a period of global re-adjustment. A more negative take is that there is a real risk of the fabric of the international legal order, created so carefully in the aftermath of the First and Second World Wars, unravelling.

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Will Congress penalize colleges that increase tuition?

Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa will serve as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee during the upcoming 115th Congress. Senator Grassley’s decision to lead the Finance Committee may have important consequences for the nation’s colleges and universities.

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The merits of and case for Land Value Taxation

Politics matters for tax as tax matters for politics. The high-minded Scottish economist Adam Smith had ‘four maxims of taxation’: 1) Tax should be progressive.
2) Tax should be certain, not arbitrary.
3) Tax should be paid at the time most convenient to the contributor.
4) Tax should take as little from the contributors as possible to pay for the state.

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How video may influence juror decision-making for police defendants

In recent years, these videos [depicting police brutality] have become increasingly available to the public and widely disseminated, fueling the launch of the Black Lives Matter movement demanding justice for minority victims of police violence. Yet, little research has explored how video is impacting juries when police actually go to trial as defendants.

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International disability rights and the dilemma of domestic courts

Since 1992, 3 December has been the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. According to the World Report on Disability, approximately one in five people in the world are disabled and are at heightened risk of exclusion, disadvantage, and poverty. Law plays an important role in tackling this inequality and exclusion. For the past decade, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Disability Convention) – an instrument of international law – has been both a catalyst and guide for legislative reform enhancing the equality and inclusion of disabled people. To what extent, though, is this Disability Convention influencing domestic case law?

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How video may influence juror decision-making for police defendants

In recent years, these videos [depicting police brutality] have become increasingly available to the public and widely disseminated, fueling the launch of the Black Lives Matter movement demanding justice for minority victims of police violence. Yet, little research has explored how video is impacting juries when police actually go to trial as defendants.

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International law regarding use of force

Through the power of precedent, international incidents involving the use of force help to clarify the meaning and interpretation of jus ad bellum, the corpus of rules arising from international custom and the United Nations Charter that govern the use of force. UN Charter Article 2(4) forbids states from using force in their international relations. Exceptions to this prohibition are acts taken in self-defence under UN Charter Article 51 or under the auspices of a UN Security Council authorization to use force under Article 42. States can also consent that another state use force in its territory, for example to combat rebel or terrorist actors. In certain cases, state practice gives rise to new interpretations of existing rules or novel exceptions emerge.

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Facing the challenges of serving the public as an academic

What does it mean to be an academic? To be an academic working in environmental law? One part of our multi-faceted role is what I am calling “public service”—trying to make our small portion of the world a slightly better place. Public service is difficult. Its demands, however, are rather similar to those we face […]

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Time to abandon “beyond reasonable doubt”

In England and many other countries around the world, the standard of proof to be met by the prosecution in order for the jury to convict an accused is proof “beyond reasonable doubt” or proof that makes the jury “sure” of guilt. These phrases are supposed to convey a very high standard of proof.

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