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Professor John Palfrey

Former Research Associate

John Palfrey

Former Research Associate

Profile Contents


John Palfrey is Clinical Professor of Law and Executive Director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. His research and teaching is focused on the impact of the Internet on democracy. John teaches courses with a focus on Internet law, intellectual property, e-commerce, and digital democracy.

John is a principal investigator of the OpenNet Initiative, a collaborative research project with the University of Toronto, Cambridge University, and the University of Oxford, which involves the study of the way that countries block their citizens’ access to the Internet. He has published a number of scholarly papers related to the Internet’s relationship to Intellectual Property, international governance, and democracy. Along with Professors Jonathan Zittrain and William Fisher, he co-authored an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court in MGM v. Grokster.

Prior to joining the Berkman Center, John practiced intellectual property and corporate law at the law firm of Ropes & Gray. Outside his Berkman Center work, he is the founder of several technology start-ups, such as Top Ten Media. John worked as a White House-appointed special assistant at the US EPA during the Clinton Administration. He is a graduate of Harvard College, the University of Cambridge, and Harvard Law School.

John writes a blog on the Harvard Law website.


Research Interests

Law, legal and regulatory control of online technologies, Internet and democracy, Internet governance, privacy, Internet filtering, citizen media, intellectual property, e-commerce, spyware

Positions at the OII

  • Research Associate, November 2006 - November 2019



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