Internet Law

Professor Grimmelmann

New York Law School

Fall 2007

About the Course


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.

Class Meetings

We meet Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:30-3:45 in room B500.

Here’s what I expect from you in class:


Most class readings will be taken from Raymond Ku and Jacqueline Lipton, Cyberspace Law (2d ed. 2006). We will not discuss the problems from the casebook. Other readings will be linked from this syllabus.


There will be a 24-hour take-home self-scheduled final exam. The exam will be open book and subject to a strict word limit. You should not need to spend more than six hours on it. The 24-hour period is designed to allow you to take the exam under comfortable conditions and with no unnecessary stress. You are responsible for anything in the readings or discussed in class, with the emphasis on what has been discussed in class.

The exam counts for 80% of your grade. Your posts to the course blog (see below) count for the remaining 20%. 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. NYLS has a blind-grading policy: I won’t know who wrote which exam until after I submit your grades.

Course Web Page and Weblog

This syllabus is at

There is a course weblog at There will be ten assignments during the semester, generally weekly, to post to the blog. I will typically give the assignment on Thursday, and you will be responsible for posting your reply by Tuesday morning at 12:01 (just after midnight). Your posts should be under 200 words.

The blog posts will count for 20% of your grade; each assignment will be graded on a check/no-check basis. I will let you make up two missed or no-check posts by posting a follow-up. Check in with me before you do. That way I can be sure to give you proper credit for your follow-up posts.

I also encourage you to post comments following up on your classmates’ posts and to post interesting Internet law news stories you come across to the blog. It should be a place of conversation that you take in your own directions.

Finally, keep in mind that things you post to the weblog, like anything you post to the Internet, will be available to a very wide audience for a long time. Use your discretion before posting anything that could be embarrassing to you or to others.


Office: Room 708A, 40 Worth St.
Phone: (212) 431-2864
Email: jgrimmelmann (at nyls)
Office Hours: Wednesdays 3:00 to 5:00 and by appointment

Please put “Internet law course” somewhere in the subject line of any course-related email to me so that I can give it proper attention quickly.


August 23

Class 1: Introduction (slides)
Class will not meet today. Instead, the first lecture (discussing this syllabus and the major themes of the course) is available online. Please watch it after doing the assignment and thinking a bit about the issues the readings raise.

August 28

Class 2: Internet Technology (slides)

August 30

Class 3: Where is Cyberspace? (slides)

September 4

Blog Assignment 1 due by 12:01 AM
Class 4: No Government? (slides)

September 6

Class 5: Which Government? (slides)

September 11

Blog Assignment 2 due by 12:01 AM
Class 6: Personal Jurisdiction (slides)

September 13

No class: Rosh Hashanah

September 18

Blog Assignment 3 due by 12:01 AM
Class 7: Censorship (slides)

September 20

Class 8: Filtering (slides)

September 25

Blog Assignment 4 due by 12:01 AM
Class 9: Section 230 (slides)

September 27

Class 10: More Section 230 (slides)

October 2

Blog Assignment 5 due by 12:01 AM
Class 11: Anonymity (slides)

October 4

Class 12: Suveillance (slides)

October 9

Class 13: Privacy (slides)

October 11

Class 14: Mid-Semester Review

October 16

Blog Assignment 6 due by 12:01 AM
Class 15: Hacking (slides)

October 18

Class 16: Trespass
Class will not meet today. Please do the assigned readings. Later in the semester, there will be a make-up video of a panel discussion about the issues these cases raise.

October 23

Blog Assignment 7 due by 12:01 AM
Class 17: Contracts (slides)

October 25

Class 18: Domain Names I (Trademark) (slides)

October 30

Class 19: Domain Names II (ACPA, UDRP, ICANN) (slides)
Guest lecturer: David Johnson

November 1

Class 20: Copyright Principles (slides)

November 6

Blog Assignment 8 due by 12:01 AM
Class 21: Peer-to-Peer (slides)

November 8

Class 22: DMCA Section 1201 (slides)

November 13

Blog Assignment 9 due by 12:01 AM
Class 23: DMCA Section 512 (slides)

November 15

Class 24: Commons Production

November 20

Class 25: Search Engines (slides)
Guest lecturer: Ira Rubenstein, Associate General Counsel, Microsoft Corporation (retired)

Optional addiional readings:

November 22

No class: Thanksgiving

November 27

Class 26: Network Neutrality (slides)

November 29

Class 27: Spam
Visualization Assignment 10 due in class

December 4

Class 28: End-of-Semester Review

Final Exam