November 12, 2010
Professor Miriam Cherry’s scholarship, which focuses on the intersection of technology and globalization with business, contract, and employment law, landed her in the middle of a recent story in The New York Times.
In an October 30, 2010 article, “When the Assembly Line Moves Online,” a business writer quoted Cherry extensively and linked to her Alabama Law Review article, “Working for (Virtually) Minimum Wage: Applying the Fair Labor Standards Act,” 60 Ala. L. Rev. 1077 (2009). In that piece, Cherry had presented the argument for extending minimum-wage laws into cyberspace.
The newspaper article related the emergence of companies such as Microtask, Mechanical Turk and CloudCrowd that parcel out repetitive internet tasks to distant workers, who then might perform thousands of two-second keystrokes during a work day.
“My assistant and I tried but we couldn’t make minimum wage,” Cherry told the newspaper reporter. She was somewhat skeptical of the idea that companies could make games out of the work. Having studied Chinese “gold farmers,” who play games for long hours on behalf of first-world gamers to earn virtual currency, she said, “What makes a game a game is being able to control where and for how long one plays,” she said. To those Chinese gamers-for-hire, “games are work.”
A prolific young scholar and member of the American Law Institute, Cherry has an article forthcoming on virtual work in the Georgia Law Review. On a different subject, “Beyond Profit: Rethinking Corporate Social Responsibility After the BP Oil Disaster,” which she wrote with Professor Judd Sneirson of Hofstra University Law School, will appear next year in the Tulane Law Review. They have been invited to present the article as part of a symposium at Tulane that will take various perspectives (environmental, maritime, and economic) on the oil spill.
Another article co-written with McGeorge faculty colleague Jarrod Wong continues to attract attention. After “Clawbacks: Prospective Contract Measures in an Era of Excessive Executive Compensation and Ponzi Schemes,” 94 Minn L. Rev. 368 (2009), was published, Professor Michael Macchiarola wrote a response to Headnotes, the online companion to the Minnesota Law Review. The Seton Hall law professor titled his response, “In the Shadow of the Omnipresent Claw: In Response to Professors Cherry & Wong.” Wong and Cherry have since submitted their response and reply, “Clawback to the Future.” Both will be published in early next month.
Cherry is a visiting law professor at St. Louis University for the 2010-11 academic year. In the fall of 2009, she was a visitor at the University of Georgia Law School.