The IRIS is the biggest and best known legal informatics conference in Austria and was held this year for the 13th time. It was hosted by the law faculty of the University of Salzburg, located right in the centre of the historic town.
Probably the only proper way to start summarizing such a conference is, to thank not only Dr. Schweighofer and his great team (e.g. Ines Staufer, Anton Geist) for organizing the conference but also to appreciate the excellent service provided by the staff of the university of Salzburg.
Everybody who has ever attended an IRIS conference knows that it is impossible to summarize the conference as the broad range of topics is sheer impressive. Thus I’d just like to highlight a few:
Mielke/Wolff‘s presentation attracted my attention as Wolff brought forward the eye-mind hypotheses, stating that the is a definite correlation between the time a user’s eye fixates onto an object and the amount of attention the user spends on that certain object. When asked about the theory of inattentional blindness, Wolff rejected fiercely the later and referred to “recent publications” to back up his eye-mind hypotheses. Mielke/Wolff cited Wright/Ward, Orienting of Attention (Oxford University Press 2008) in their paper and for sure I will give his sources a detailed read.
Sofia Filguerias, a Portuguese PhD student, holding a scholarship at the Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property, gave a very well structured and highly informative presentation about the questions of copyright in virtual worlds.
Having attended the last three IRIS conferences it is clearly noticeable how the formerly male-dominated sector of legal informatics is gradually changing, as each year more and more female speakers are presenting their research.
Konstantin Hobel, a PHD student from the University of Vienna, held a presentation about the opinion of the General Advocate Maduro on the Google France cases and indeed managed to coherently summarize the indeed tricky grounds of the GA’s opinion.
Kai Erenli lead the audience down into the jungle of open source licences (GPL, EUPL, etc.) and highlighted a couple of legal challenges in this field. Anyone interested in this field is advised to take a look at Erenli’s most recent book on this topic.
Judith Rauhofer, from the University of Central Lancashire, held an extremely interesting presentation, comparing the quest of a user to find the “General Terms & Conditions” on a website to the quest of Arthur Dent when trying to appeal against the decision that the earth shall be demolished to make way for a galactic freeway. Rauhofer chose the very well fitting analogy that the information is actually somewhere on the website, but one might have to search for it…
“…in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard‘”
(Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).
Kastelitz/Leiter spoke about data protection and credit-worthiness data banks and I was honestly surprised to hear that the such data banks do not fill their indexes through the central population register (ZMR). Leiter who is also the head of the legal department of the Austrian branch of the Deltavista GmbH later also explained that this wouldn’t make much sense for his company as such a practise would not only violate Austrian laws (§ 16a (5), (5a) MeldeG) but furthermore each request at the ZMR would cost his company 3 EUR. Furthermore to be able to finally receive the data from the ZMR the person/entity requesting already needs to provide some basic facts about the person. Thus the ZMR could only be used to eventually verify already existing data. Although I find the arguments brought forward by Leiter indeed convincing he still didn’t explain where and how the companies Deltavista itself is getting their data from, themselves harvest the data…
The conference furthermore gave me chance to present the results of my last three years of research on the topic of Keyword Advertising in front of a small but high-profile audience. As the topic itself is not entirely new I tried to “pimp” my presentation by adding some nice charts, dropping a few definitions here and there and finally also daring to speculate about the future of advertising (slides below -unfortunately German only- ). Nothing too exciting ;)