The University Lecture

Since 1950, the University Lecture has offered members of the BU community and the general public an opportunity to hear from distinguished faculty about the outstanding and often groundbreaking research and scholarship in which they are actively engaged.

University Lecturers represent a vast array of disciplines and research topics, yet share a common commitment to excellence in scholarly inquiry and discovery. The annual lecture provides an opportunity to highlight the work of a distinguished scholar and engages both the University community and the broader public in the vibrant intellectual life of Boston University.

To nominate a BU faculty member for this honor, please complete this form. Nominations should be submitted via e-mail to or by mail to the Office of the Provost, One Silber Way, 8th floor.


2017 University Lecture

The Liberty to Copy Unpatented Inventions: Potential Collisions with Trademark and Copyright Law

Presented by Wendy J. Gordon, William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor and Professor of Law

Monday, November 6, 2017 at 7 p.m.
Tsai Performance Center
685 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts
Admission is free. The public is cordially invited.
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Wendy J. Gordon is William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor and Professor of Law at Boston University, where she has taught since 1993. Her scholarship utilizes economics, as well as ethics and analytic philosophy to understand copyright, trademark, and related forms of intellectual property. She has earned national recognition for widely published, contemporary analyses of copyright’s “fair use” doctrine and of John Locke’s theory of property.

An enthusiastic proponent of interdisciplinary teaching and scholarship, Professor Gordon has co-taught a course in law and literature with a literary critic, a course on political theory with a philosopher, and a course on ‘copyright and rhetoric’ with a Shakespearean actor. Her current scholarship also examines copyright infringement as a mirror-image of the law of accidental injury, with both holding the potential to improve private decision-making: The threat of negligence liability decreases careless behavior by helping people understand they will bear some cost of the harm they cause. Conversely, the promise of copyright liability increases creative behavior by enabling people to capture some profit from the benefits they generate.

Professor Gordon has co-authored two books on the economics of copyright, published numerous law journal articles, and written book chapters on copyright issues, free speech, computer copyright, and the fair use doctrine. She serves on the editorial board of the European Journal of Law and Economics.

The U.S. Supreme Court has three times cited her scholarship. She has received a Fulbright Scholarship, was elected by Oxford’s St. John’s College to a Visiting Senior Research Fellowship, and was selected as a resident at the Rockefeller Foundation retreat in Bellagio. Professor Gordon has also been the Bacon-Kilkenny Distinguished Visitor at Fordham, a Visiting Fellow at Oxford’s Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy, and the “Intellectual Property Distinguished Visitor” at the Lewis and Clark Law School. She has twice served as the Chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Intellectual Property.

Past Lectures


Walden Warming: Climate Change Comes to Thoreau’s Woods
Presented by Richard Primack


Sacred Waters: Historical Ecology, Power, and the Soul of the Blue Nile
Presented by James McCann


A Bionic Pancreas for Type 1 Diabetes:  The Long-Awaited Alternative to the Ever-Elusive Cure
Presented by Edward Damiano


The D-Lightful Vitamin D for Health
Presented by Michael Holick


The Ponzi Scheme Puzzle: The Stories Behind Some of the Biggest Liars in History
Presented by Tamar Frankel


The Wonderful Things of Punt: Excavations at a Pharaonic Harbor on the Red Sea
Presented by Kathryn Bard


Not a Note Too Many: Beethoven, McCartney, & Miles 2010
Presented by Jeremy Yudkin


Aeroecology: The Next Frontier
Presented by Thomas H. Kunz


Biology by Design
Presented by James J. Collins


Illusions of Managing History: The Enduring Relevance of Reinhold Niebuhr
Presented by Andrew J. Bacevich


Blood Wedding: The Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in History and Memory
Presented by Barbara Diefendorf


American Bioethics after Nuremberg: Pragmatism, Politics, and Human Rights
Presented by George Annas


Macbeth and the Show of Kings
Presented by William C. Carroll


Crossing the Watershed: Biological and Other Worlds in the Post-Genomic Era
Presented by Charles Delisi