Topics in Internet Law
This Pathfinder is no longer being actively maintained by the Internet Public Library.
This pathfinder treats the law of or about the Internet, as opposed to law or legal-research sources available through the Internet.
- “Internet Law” in General
- Intellectual Property (“IP”)
- Data Privacy
- Free Expression
- Jurisdiction in Cyberspace
- Internet governance
It is important to note that these areas have a strong tendency to overlap or blur together (perhaps this is both a strength of the Berkman Center style definition, below, and an argument that such a thing as “Cyberlaw” or “Internet Law” does exist)
Defining ‘Internet Law’
- UCLA Online Institute for Cyberspace Law and Policy
The UCLA Online Institute for Cyberspace Law and Policy subdivides its topic into “Cases, Statutes &Topical Highlights” into seven areas: E-Commerce, Freedom of Expression, Intellectual Property, Privacy and Encryption, Jurisdiction and Transborder Issues, Safety Issues, and Equity.
- Berkman Center for Internet and Society
The Berkman Center takes a very different approach and conceptually defines “Cyberlaw” as related to the cluster of fields in which “…software architecture can determine and constrain behavior much as traditional laws do in our communities” — i.e. adopting Lawrence Lessig’s concept of “Code”.
In compiling this pathfinder, I have tried to avoid being overly topical in the sense of focusing on specific issues of the moment. For example, while I write Senator Fritz Holling’s copy protection bill is a hot topic and the U.S. Supreme Court is preparing to hear Eldred v. Ashcroft (formerly Eldred v. Reno), but because information on these types of things can be easily found from most or all of the sources in my Intellectual Property section, I have included no directreferences to current news articles or specific links to lower court cases. Obviously some specific legislation merits attention (e.g UCITA and the Digital Millenium Copyright Act) but even with these I have tried to avoid highly specific sources that are exceedingly likely to dissapear or to become outdated with near-term developments.
Also, because of the scope of this pathfinder, I have selected a lot of ‘pathfinder’ type resources for inclusion while deliberately avoiding the citation of many specific papers, cases, statutes, etc. It is my hope that this source can best serve as a sort of “pathfinder to pathfinders” in this exceedingly broad topic.
Sources on Internet Law
These are sources that cover ‘Internet Law’ generally, or as a coherent legal subject. Specific topical treatments are addressed in the sections below.
While it was once (even when this pathfinder was first created) much more helpful to talk about ‘Internet law’ in a general sense, the dilution of the Internet into many areas of public life has made it much easier to talk instead about several certain areas of law and regulation that are impacted by the Internet and related technologies. Nevertheless, some general treatments exist, and some scholars and others continue to focus on the Internet and Cyberspace as the unifying theme in their work.
- Berkman Center for Internet &Society
Harvard’s “Berkman Center for Internet &Society is a research program founded to explore cyberspace, share in its study, and help pioneer its development.” The faculty and fellows of the Berkman Center also include extremely influential figures, like Lawrence Lessig and Jonathan Zittrain, on the law, policy, and technology front.
- Cyberspace Law Institute
This organization’s web-site (maintained by co-director David Post, a professor at Temple Law School) presents many papers and other resources about Cyberspace law.
- The Stanford Program in Law, Science, and Technology
Oversees Stanford’s Technology Law curriculum, with specific areas of focus upon General Technology Intellectual Property Life Sciences Information Sciences
- Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society
Stanford Law School’s public interest technology law and policy program
- UCLA Online Institute for Law and Policy
Also presents lists of cases and statutes grouped into issues of Freedom of Expression, Intellectual Property, Privacy and Encryption, Jurisdiction, Safety, and finally Equity.
Activist and Professional/Trade Organizations
- American Bar Association: Committee on Cyberspace Law
A committee within the ABA’s Business Law section.
- American Civil Liberties Union: CyberLiberties
Information on a variety of cyberlaw-related topics in which the ACLU is playing a role.
- American Library Association: Office for Information Technology Policy
This ALA office is concerned specifically with copyright, telecommunications, and internet governance issues.
- Association for Computing Machinery: Computing and Public Policy Page
The public-policy and social issues page from the ACM, dedicated to “…bringing potentially significant technical and public policy issues to the attention of the ACM membership and the community.”
- Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
The CPSR is a professional organization that often takes an activist role in issues related to the law of computers and the Internet.
- The Electronic Frontier Foundation
The EFF is an activist group very involved in Cyber-law or Internet-law related issues.
- Internet Law and Policy Forum
An organization of large Internet-oriented companies, to promote their policy and regulatory interests.
- People for Internet Responsibility
Page includes policy statements and news items
- Software &Information Industry Association Government Affairs page
Deals mainly with “cyberlaw” type topics.
- Special Libraries Association: Public Policy Central
The SLA’s public policy clearinghouse page.
Cyberlaw-focused Law Journals
There are a number of academic, scholarly, law journals that focus upon Internet or technology-related issues. Many (or even most) of these were founded around 1995, and a number continue in publication. While it may be difficult to locate specific articles without a journal index (for which you will need to consult a librarian) many of these journals present both articles and tables of contents online. A browse of some of the online tables of contents of current and recent issues of some of these journals can be useful for current awareness in the Internet-law area. I have included explanatory notes only where the journal is not a law-school published, student-edited journal from an American law school the name of which is clear from the title of the journal.
- Library of Congress List of Online Law Reviews
While this list is not limited to law reviews with a Cyberlaw or Internet Law focus, such journals are heavilly represented among this group that publish a web-based version.
- Berkeley Technology Law Journal
- Computer Law Review &Technology Journal
“…an official publication of the Computer and Technology Section of the State Bar of Texas and the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law.”
- Hofstra Cyberlaw Forum
- IDEA – The Journal of Law and Technology
Student-edited journal from Franklin Pierce Law Center
- Intellectual Property and Technology Forum
Boston College Law School
- Journal of Information, Law, and Technology
School of Law at Warwick University (UK)
- Journal of Online Law
William and Mary – Marshall-Wythe School of Law
- Journal of Technology Law
University of Florida – Levin College of Law
- Michigan Telecommunications and Technology Law Review
- Santa Clara University Computer &High Technology Law Journal
- Stanford Technology Law Review
- Syracuse Law and Technology Journal
- UCLA Journal of Law and Technology
- Virginia Journal of Law and Technology
- West Virginia Journal of Law and Technology
Digital Intellectual Property (IP)
Digital technology and Internet communications have enabled almost cost-less duplication and dissemination of music, movies, text, or any other media that can be reduced to (and transmitted as) bits of computer code. The result is that intellectual property law, copyright in particular, has been placed under a great deal of pressure. The owners of IP rights in digital media want to prevent wholesale piracy — yet many others fear a new regime in which the owners of IP can use technology itself to hard-code protections against copying, without the balances of traditional copyright law.
The IP issues overlap very strongly with the internet commerce issue, so you may want to browse the sources listed in both sections of this bibliography.
- Digital Future Coalition
An organization “committed to striking an appropriate balance in law and public policy between protecting intellectual property and affording public access to it” that has a membership composed of major non-profit and for-profit groups on various “sides” of the issues.
- Intellectual Property and the National Information Infrastructure
The influential (and controversial) 1995 “white paper” report of the Clinton Administration’s Information Infrastructure Task Force.
- James Boyle’s Home Page
This home page of a Duke law professor is set up as a very useful gateway resource for information on digital IP, including his own writings and linking to those of others.
- Larry Lessig’s Home Page
While influential in other areas of Cyberlaw, much of Lessig’s work relates especially strongly to intellectual property.
- Jessica Littman’s Home Page
The author of the book Digital Copyright, Littman is an influential scholar of the intersection of technology and intellectual property.
- Pamela Samuelson’s Home Page
Samuelson is another professor who has been very widely influential in Internet Law, but especially so in its intellectual property aspects. Many of her papers and articles are available online through this site.
- United States Copyright Office
The United States Copyright Office web page presents information not only about U.S. Copyright law, but also about the World Intellectual Property Organization and the international treaties and conventions that affect this area.
- Copyright and Fair Use for Librarians
A dated, but well-presented, pathfinder.
- World Intellectual Property Organization
The main world-level body for intellectual property law, WIPO administers the Berne Convention and other IP-related treaties.
Music and Entertainment licensing agencies.
- “Copyleft”/GNU Public License
Alternative licensing regime with its origins in the open-source software movement.
- Creative Commons
Forthcoming experimental alternative management system for rights in intellectual property, developed by academics unhappy with the increasingly inflexible protections available to copyright-holders, aimed to provide “…flexible, customizable intellectual-property licenses that artists, writers, programmers and others can obtain free of charge to legally define what constitutes acceptable uses of their work.”
- Copyright Clearance Center
CCC, the “…the largest licenser of text reproduction rights in the world, was formed in 1978 to facilitate compliance with U.S. copyright law.”
Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA)
- Association of Research Libraries: Information and Analysis of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act
- Copyright Office review of the DMCA
- Digital Future Coalition: the Digital Millenium Copyright Act Index
Includes legislative history, and broader historical background, for the DMCA.
Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, and the Eldred case.
It will probably be most helpful to check for new links and sources on the general resources in the IP section (especially the organization home-pages), because of the news-heavy topic. Also see the IPL’s U.S. Law pathfinder for information on searching federal court cases.
“Pathfinders” and Link Lists to Intellectual Property Law
Lists or finding aids especially strong on resources with Internet/technology-related focus have been selected.
- The Berkeley Digital Library SUNSite: Copyright, Intellectual Property Rights, and Licensing Issues
- Boston University: Intellectual Property
- Cornell/Legal Information Institute: Copyright
- Emory University School of Law: Intellectual Property
- Stanford University Libraries: Copyright and Fair Use
Web sites and articles.
- UCLA Online Institute for Cyberspace Law and Policy: Online Bibliography (Intellectual Property)
A bibliography of both print and online articles and books related to digital intellectual property, broken down into sections on copyright, patents, and trademarks.
The commercial law of the Internet. Because most property at stake in cyberspace is intellectual property, the overlap or tension between this area and IP Law is strong and challenging.
Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA)
UCITA is being promulgated as uniform state law, meaning that it (like the Uniform Commercial Code by which it was inspired) is designed to be state, not federal, law but to be uniform across as many states as possible. Because UCITA is percieved as strengthening the contract position of those who license software or other digital content, it has been very controversial. UCITA is basically commercial contract law to cover contracts in electronic commerce, although the subject matter of those contracts and commerce is very often intellectual property.
- UCITA Online
Strongly pro-UCITA page maintained by commercial lawyer Carol Kunze.
- National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws
NCCUSL is the organization that has drafted and proposed the UCITA to the various state legislatures. Select “Computer Information Transactions Act” in the “Select an Act Title” pull-down menu.
- Americans for Fair Electronic Commerce Transactions
AFFECT is an umbrella group of opponents of UCITA, including the major librarian organizations (ALA, SLA, AALL), the Association for Computing Machinery, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, and many others, including large corporations that are users of licensed software and content.
- American Library Association
The ALA’s Washington office has an extensive page of current-awareness links about UCITA.
- Association of Research Libraries
The ARL has a very extensive page of UCITA links.
- Software &Information Industry Association
Pro-UCITA page from the software publisher’s association.
For other e-commerce issues (e.g. taxation and the Internet), see especially the UCLA Online Institute for Cyberspace Law and Policy, at http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/iclp/csth.html and the law reviews linked in the general section.
Privacy topics that are related to Internet technology range from: government surveillance of email, Web activity, or telecommunications; to marketer’s monitoring or profiling of customers; to individual snooping; to identity theft and some forms of ‘hacking’. Rather than comprehensively deal with the sources on any of these topics, I have attempted to include enough resources to provide second-tier links for most privacy topics.
- American Civil Liberties Union
ACLU privacy resources.
- ACLU’s Privacy and Encryption Page
Another ACLU page, this one focused mainly on encryption and rights to the use of encryption.
- Cleveland Law Library’s Research Guides Series: Internet Privacy (#27)
Unfortunately less a pathfinder guide to Internet privacy law than a demonstration of certain practical facts about Internet and database prying.
- Computers, Freedom, and Privacy Conference
Records, papers, and discussion spurred by each of the annual conferences, from 1991 to the present.
- Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)
EPIC’s web site includes news alerts, as well as links to the organization’s own papers and reports.
- EPIC: International Privacy Standards
Useful for links to sources on the European Union’s Data Protection Directive and its accomodation by U.S. law.
- Findlaw: Cyberspace Law: Privacy
‘Pathfinder’ type links.
- Health Privacy Project:Institute for Health Care Research and Policy
Georgetown University center “…dedicated to raising public awareness of the importance of ensuring health privacy in order to improve health care access and quality, both on an individual and a community level.”
- Internet and Online Privacy in Massachusetts: a Pathfinder
Maintained by the library of the trial courts of Massachusetts, this is a pathfinder that links to privacy-related legal information that is relevant both within and outside of that state.
- Law Library Resource Exchange: article/pathfinder “The EU Privacy Directive and the US Safe Harbor”
- Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
Links and consumer-education resources.
- UCLA Online Institute for Cyberspace Law and Policy: Online Bibliography (privacy)
A bibliography of both print and online articles and books related to online privacy, broken down by sub-topic.
- United States Department of Justice Office of Information and Privacy
This is the DOJ office responsible for both the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act. This page also provides links to information on Homeland Security.
- United States Department of Justice Office for Domestic Preparedness
Functions related to anti-terrorism and domestic security, touching upon privacy concerns.
- United States Office of Homeland Security
Homepage of the new (as of 2002) Office.
Issues of free expression and the Internet range from questions of the status and application of First Amendment concepts such as “obscenity” and “community standards” in cyberspace to the politically and technically difficult issues of internet ‘filtering’ technology.
- American Library Association: Office of Intellectual Freedom
Covers a wide range of issues, currently with the strongest emphasis on library filtering.
- Censorship on the Internet: A Bibliography
Bibliography page maintained by a Canadian librarian.
- Citizen’s Internet Empowerment Coalition
CIEC is an organization that was formed to fight the Communications Decency Act in 1996-1997. When the Supreme Court ruled the act unconstitutional, this page remained online as a sort of archive of related documents.
- Child Online Protection Act: COPA Commission
The COPA Commission is charged by Congress, under the act passed following the Court’s rejection of the CDA, with the mission to “…identify technological or other methods that will help reduce access by minors to material that is harmful to minors on the Internet.” Contents of the web site include research reports and papers, press releases, and information on meetings and hearings.
- Electronic Frontier Foundation: Internet Censorship Legislation and Regulation Archive
Contains links to the text of much Internet-privacy related legislation, as well as articles about it. Unfortunately it only seems to be current through mid-2000.
- Internet Free Expression Alliance Resource Page
Provides links to a large number of web sites and articles regarding the topic, nearly all from the IFEA’s strongly anti-censorship perspective.
- Morality in Media: Internet Issues
Has links to some articles, coverage, and favorably-oriented editorials regarding COPA and state Internet-decency laws.
Jurisdiction in Cyberspace
Because the parties to any sort of online transaction online can be located, physically, in any location and are only brought together “virtually”, the Internet has significantly challenged traditional notions of territorial jurisdiction. This is an important twist in many fields of Internet law (for example with free speech and censorship issues) but has also been treated as an important topic in its own right.
- Chicago-Kent College of Law: Page on Cyberlaw Jurisdiction
Links to articles, government resources, and web links.
- Consumer Project on Technology: Page on Jurisdiction in Cyberspace
This Ralph Nader-affiliated organization has a very substantial and seemingly current collection of links and resources on Internet jurisdiction.
- John Marshall Law School: Center for Information Technology and Privacy Law: Internet Jurisdiction page
Links to case law. Page is only current through August 1998 so patron’s need to be aware to update any research begun from this page.
- Personal Jurisdiction on the Internet: A survey of the cases
Compiled by David Post of Temple Law School and the Cyberspace Law Institute, and last updated in June 1998. Is linked to an accompanying guide/outline of the law on the topic.
The last topic in this pathfinder, and one which perhaps spans across all of the others, is the topic of the “government” of the Internet itself – how the rules, protocals, and conventions that goven Cyberspace interact with the better-understood realms of law and policy.
- New York Times Archive on Internet Governance
Registration (for the New York Times on the Web) required, but a very extensive collection of articles related to domain-name allocation and many other issues.
- Domain Names and IP Allocation
- Internet Corporation for Assigned Name and Numbers
“The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the non-profit corporation that was formed to assume responsibility for the IP address space allocation, protocol parameter assignment, domain name system management, and root server system management functions previously performed under U.S. Government contract by IANA and other entities.”
ICANN has a board of directors, that is elected from “the Internet community” — the composition of ICANN has been a matter of some controversy.
- ICANN Watch
Forum for discussion and resources related to domain-name management.
- Internet Corporation for Assigned Name and Numbers
While not law in a conventional sense, agreed-upon industry and practice standards do have much to do with the governance and functional regulation of the Internet – if only through the economic effects of lock-in and economies of scale. There is not space in this pathfinder to delve into sources for proprietary standards or to go into specific, technical, open standards. Here are links to two major standards bodies, however:
This pathfinder created by Andrew Larrick, based on an existing structure by Gavin Fearey.