My basic principle of integrity is a variant of Larry Lessig’s:
Anything I say represents the views of at most one person: me.
I’m a law professor. That means that New York Law School pays me to teach classes and to write scholarship. Like other serious educational institutions, NYLS is committed to academic freedom. No one at the school has ever pressured me to take any particular viewpoint in my work and I’m confident no one ever will. Since I have a day job, I can and do decline any outside work that would clash with my principles, require me to endorse any particular point of view, or bias me in what I choose to say.
I write to contribute to the store of human knowledge, to improve society, and to amuse myself. Sometimes it pays, but so far, it’s never paid well. If I were writing for the money, I’d be an even bigger fool than I look. I treat it as a windfall: a fortunate side effect of writing things that might influece a wider audience than a typical law review article would.
I sometimes speak at conferences and other events. Even when I’ve been invited to address a particular subject, I’ve never been asked to take a particular position. My research budget only goes so far, so I ask for reimbursement for my actual travel expenses where possible. I also accept honoraria, so long as it’s clear that they’re independent of the viewpoint I take.
I am the principal investigator on the Public-Interest Book Search Initiative, which has received outside grant funding, including from Microsoft and the American Library Association. These project funds go toward holding conferences, creating nonpartisan websites, travel and research expenses, and the like—not to me personally. The Information Society Project at Yale, where I was a Resident Fellow and remain an Affiliated Fellow, is sponsored by a range of donors, both nonprofit and private.
I have friends, colleagues, former students, and acquaintances who work or have worked at Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, IBM, the EFF, Creative Commons, and the White House—and on more open-source and free-culture projects than I could keep track of. I don’t let these social connections disrupt my work, or vice-versa.
This blog is structurally independent. There are no business relationships that influence on what appears on it.
Editors: I’m the only person with the password to the blog. No one else directs me to say or not to say things on it.
New York Law School: I don’t use school computing resources to maintain the blog and I don’t pay its costs with school funds.
Internet intermediaries: The blog lives on a server administered cooperatively by a group of my friends. It’s hosted on a colocated box at RimuHosting. My DNS is handled by Gandi. I do almost all of my own programming and HTML design; I get informal unpaid help from friends for some of the sysadmin tasks.
Commercial pressure: I pay the hosting, domain registration, and other costs out of my own pocket. I don’t accept advertising, commissions, sponsorships, link exchanges, or any other commercial relationships. For some people, blogging costs (including time and effort) would pose a real hardship if they didn’t take ads. As a a legal academic, I have both the means to subsidize my blogging and a higher obligation to be independent.
Wherever possible, I make my writings freely available under a highly permissive Creative Commons license. The academic publish-or-perish imperative means that sometimes I’ve been forced to agree to more restrictive terms. I’ve assigned the copyrights in some of my non-academic writings, when I felt the good of reaching a wider audience outweighed the harm of restricting access.
I host most of my academic writings for free anonymous download at SSRN and BePress. I self-host my syllabi, slides, and other course materials. I try to use universally accessible formats when distributing my work: principally PDF, HTML, XML, Atom, and Markdown.
I have strong views on many issues. These do not require special disclosure here; the point of this blog and my writings is precisely for me to disclose them, as persuasively as I can. I regularly exercise my fair use rights under copyright law, my experimental use rights under patent law, and my noncommercial (and parodic, fair, etc.) use rights under trademark law.
I use both proprietary and free software, depending on the task and the available options. I’ve contributed to both sorts of projects. I use any number of web services, including Flickr, Gmail, and Facebook. I’m an enthusiastic Mac owner, and yes, I have an iPhone.