Internet Law

Professor Grimmelmann

New York Law School

Spring 2011


About the Course

Overview

This is a first course in Internet law. You’ll learn the essentials of computer and network technologies, and how those technologies are challenging settled legal understandings. The sources of Internet law are many, from intellectual property to tort to the First Amendment, but by the end of the course, you should be able to sort through the legal complexities in any given case to identify what’s really at stake. Throughout the semester, we’ll tie the doctrines together with four themes:

  1. How regulation changes when it’s carried out by computers, rather than by people.
  2. Whether going online increases or decreases government control.
  3. The new kinds of power possessed by online intermediaries.
  4. The extraordinary level of innovation and creativity the Internet has unleashed.

Your work for the class will consist of daily readings, in-class discussions, discussions on Blackboard, and a take-home exam.

Readings

Almost all of the readings for the class will be taken from a draft of my forthcoming casebook, Internet Law: Cases and Problems. It will be distributed in PDF installments through Blackboard and made available at the copy center.

The questions in the casebook are meant to walk you through the readings. If you’re reading closely enough, you should be able to give at least a tentative answer to all of them. These questions will typically serve as a starting point for class discussion.

The casebook also contains a number of longer “problems.” Most of them are based on actual cases or stories from the news, but with the details tweaked. We’ll discuss the problems in depth in class; I expect you to have thought through them in detail. Although they emphasize the day’s topics, anything in the course—in fact, anything you’ve learned in law school—is fair game.

The bookstore has two books in stock as “recommended” readings for the course. Both are completely optional:

Class Meetings

We meet Mondays and Wednesdays, 6:00–7:15 in room W420.

I’ll post videos of each class, aslong with my slides, to Blackboard after each class.

Discussion

There’s a course discussion board on Blackboard. I expect you to post at least three times per week, of which at least one is a response to something one of your classmates has posted. Here are a few good ideas for things to post about:

It’s more important to be thoughtful and respectful than it is to be right. An informal tone is fine, but keep it professional. You shouldn’t post anything that you would be embarrassed to have your employer read.

Exam

There will be a take-home final exam. It will be distributed by Wednesday, May 4 and will be due by 5:00 PM on Thursday, May 12. The exam will be open book and subject to a strict page limit.

Grading

The assignments count as follows:

I may adjust your grade by one third up or down for class participation. I consider good class participation to be anything that helps your classmates learn. Asking me for an adjustment is the best way not to get one.

Contact

Professor Grimmelmann:

Teaching assistant:

This syllabus is at http://james.grimmelmann.net/courses/internet2011S/

Tentative List of Topics

Introduction: Technology, and Theory

Computers

The Internet

Jurisdiction

Cyberspace

Law

Code

Personal Jurisdiction

Speech

Free Speech

Governmental Speech Regulation

Privacy

Fourth Amendment

Statutory Privacy

Anonymity

Consumer Privacy

Hacking

Contracts

CFAA

Note: We are omitting chapter 5.C (trespass to chattels)

Section 230

Section 230

More Section 230

Interlude

NO CLASS MONDAY, MARCH 21
ATTEND THE WIKILEAKS PANEL INSTEAD

Trademarks and Domain Names

Trademarks

Domain Names

The Domain-Name System

Copyright

Exclusive Rights

Copyright Licensing

Fair Use and Secondary Liability

DMCA Section 1201

Section 512 and Hosting

Intermediaries

Common-Law Limits

Antitrust

Network Neutrality

Final Exam