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Ann Dethlefsen, Law School, 650/723-9302,

Internet law pioneer and former Yahoo! General Counsel John Place named executive director of Stanford's Center for Internet and Society

John E. Place, the former vice president, general counsel and secretary of Yahoo! Inc., has been named executive director of Stanford's Center for Internet and Society (CIS), an interdisciplinary program focusing on the connections between the Internet, law and policy.

Place, a 1985 graduate of Stanford Law School, brings expertise from his years at Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Internet portal Yahoo!'s legal department, where, in 1997, he was the first lawyer hired by the company, eventually growing the legal department to more than 50 attorneys worldwide. He retired from Yahoo! in March.

"John was literally there at the creation of Internet law, figuring out thelaw of cyberspace on the fly as Yahoo's general counsel," said Kathleen M. Sullivan, dean and Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Stanley Morrison Professor of Law, Stanford Law School. "He has a great understanding of the competing interests at stake among authors, artists and audiences." 

Law Professor Lawrence Lessig, who founded the CIS under the umbrella of the Law School's Program in Law, Science & Technology and who continues to serve as its director, also lauded the choice of Place. "Our work will only have meaning if it can connect to the world of real lawyers, business and policy makers. Place is an ideal person to make that connection," Lessig said. "There is no one who could provide better guidance to me and our work, and especially, to students in this field."

At the CIS, Place will put his first-hand knowledge of Internet law to work by serving as an adviser to the center's clinical projects which are led by CIS Clinical Director Jennifer Granick and by working with visiting fellows and speakers from a wide range of disciplines. 

"He'll be providing us with direction, vision and follow-through," Granick said. "We're extremely excited to have him on board."

Place plans to further develop the center as a resource for policy makers and legislators who create the rules governing the Internet.

"We are uniquely placed in Silicon Valley to be among the very best centers of this kind in the country," Place said. "I'm anxious to put my experience to use in a really meaningful way at the Center."

Place also looks forward to giving guidance to law students who want to practice Internet law. "It's my hope that hearing the perspective of someone with my set of experiences might be something the students find useful," Place said.

Before joining Yahoo!, Place was senior corporate counsel at San Jose-based Adobe Systems Incorporated, where he got his first taste of the power of the Internet. Place was responsible for the intellectual property issues surrounding many of the company's popular software programs, including Adobe Photoshop, and was the company's in-house multimedia expert. In 1994, he was given a new project: to apply the law to the company's fledgling web site. "I had to address most of the issues from scratch," Place recalls. "We were among the very first companies dealing with this."

Place, who was raised in Palo Alto, began his career as an attorney in the Palo Alto office of the law firm Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison. He was named one of the most influential lawyers in California by the Los Angeles Daily Journal in both 1999 and 2000.

Founded nearly a year ago, the CIS is a public interest technology law and policy program at Stanford Law School. The CIS brings together scholars, academics, legislators, engineers, students, hackers and scientists to study the interaction of new technologies and the law and to examine how the synergy between the two can either promote or harm public goods like free speech, privacy, public commons, diversity and scientific inquiry. It is part of the Stanford Program in Law, Science & Technology, headed by Margaret Jane Radin, Wm. Benjamin Scott and Luna M. Scott Professor of Law.



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