Information Ethics and the Law of Data Representations

13 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2008 Last revised: 5 Oct 2015

See all articles by Dan L. Burk

Dan L. Burk

University of California, Irvine School of Law

Date Written: 2008


The theories of information ethics articulated by Luciano Floridi and his collaborators have clear implications for law. Information law, including the law of privacy and of intellectual property, is especially likely to benefit from a coherent and comprehensive theory of information ethics. This article illustrates how information ethics might apply to legal doctrine, by examining legal questions related to the ownership and control of the personal data representations, including photographs, game avatars, and consumer profiles, that have become ubiquitous with the proliferation of information and communication technologies. Recent controversy over the control of player performance statistics in "fantasy" sports leagues provides a limiting case for the analysis. Such data representations will in many instances constitute the kind of personal data that information ethics asserts constitutes an information entity. Legal doctrine in some instances proves sympathetic to such an assertion, but remains largely inchoate as to which data might constitute a given information entity in a given instance. Neither is information ethics, in its current state of development, entirely helpful in answering this critical question. While information ethics holds some promise to bring coherence to this area of the law, further work articulating a richer theory of information ethics will be necessary before it can do so.

Keywords: Floridi, information ethics, data representations avatar, copyright, privacy, right of publicity, right of privacy, information entity, information law

JEL Classification: Z10, O33, O34

Suggested Citation

Burk, Dan L., Information Ethics and the Law of Data Representations (2008). Ethics and Information Technology, Vol. 10, pp. 135-147, 2008, UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2008-5, Available at SSRN: or

Dan L. Burk (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

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Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States
949-824-9325 (Phone)

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