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On Standards

Michael Froomkin notes that he’s going to Boston to participate in a BC Law conference on Owning Standards. The conference lineup looks excellent. I hope that someone blogs the presentations.

One thing that looks like it’s missing from the list of papers (perhaps it’s there, but I’ve only looked at the titles): The intersection of standards and international law. I though of this yesterday when I happened to be reading about the history of soccer (remember, the World Cup Finals are coming up shortly). The first international soccer match took place in 1872, between England and Scotland, less than a decade after the rules of the game were standardized and codified by the Football Association. FIFA, which coordinates national football associations around the world, was created in 1904, and the first World Cup was held in 1930. As soccer fans know well, the rules of soccer are known technically as “the laws,” and FIFA regulates and administers them and forbids their unauthorized reproduction. They are owned standards, in a sense. But the laws are lived, material things, and without them, an amazing example of international cultural exchange — a sporting event featuring teams from roughly 200 countries — would not be possible. Nor would I have this: While scholars gather in Boston, I’m going off to play an indoor match tonight, and an outdoor match on Saturday (the opening of the Spring season, at last!), with groups of men who literally come from all over the world, and who share the laws and the language of soccer, and a love of the game.