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Welcome to the Internet Law Program Online Instruction Modules

Each module will launch by 12pm Eastern Time on the date specified.

June 3, Copyright and Peer-to-Peer Copying (Professor Fisher) When the Internet became accessible to the public, an individualís ability to digitize most forms of expressive (and often copyrighted) materials and to distribute them worldwide, either via email or through web pages, was readily apparent and well used. Copyright owners promptly brought legal actions against infringers, such as mp3.com. Peer to peer (p2p) systems, decentralized architectures of sharing digitized materials online among end users, proliferated. One of the earliest and best known, Napster, kept some degree of central administration and was sued to close. This legal victory for the record companies has brought about a multiplicity of decentralized p2p systems, including FastTrack, Audiogalaxy and KaZaA. This module will contemplate whether these new systems can survive in either the legal or the real world.

June 5, Alternatives to Intellectual Property (Professor Zittrain) Intellectual Property is the legal field that assigns and delineates the borders of rights in information. This type of law is believed to be necessary in order to create incentives for people to invest their time and effort in the design of original and innovative works of the intellect. However, the reach of protection has grown significantly. Many commentators now believe that its burden on society exceeds its benefits and that alternatives seriously should be considered. This module will examine several such alternatives, including data protection, contract law, encryption, open source, and a tax and a royalty system.

June 7, Privacy (Professor Nesson) The advance of the Internet, coupled with the advance of computer technologies, poses serious threats to individuals privacy. Current technologies enable commercial and governmental entities to collect private information on individuals, such as their online activities and communications, and even to commit remote searches on their computersí contents. This module will review recent legislation and case law in this area, as well as offensive and defensive technologies that may be employed by the concerned parties.

June 10, Freedom of Expression on the Internet (Professor Benkler) The Internet carries great democracy-enhancing potential. It avails individuals of the means that were reserved for a small few only several years ago - the ability to communicate oneís message to an audience of millions. Against the backdrop of traditional media, such as radio and TV, where audiences can only be passive, this was a fresh promise, calling for the engagement of individuals in shaping the social good. This module will assess the degree to which this promise was kept and will take a look at attempts to deal with issues that arise out of this sudden freedom, such as online threatening speech, hate speech, and the limits placed on speech by intellectual property laws -- all within a democratic society that enshrines First Amendment values of freedom of speech.

June 12, Legal Regulation of Interconnectivity (Professor Fisher) The web comprises millions of domains that are interconnected by hyperlinks. Changing locations on the web can be performed incrementally by clicking on links or by using other tools that facilitate interconnectivity, such as search engines or Internet portals. These latter means of navigation employ hidden agents, including internet robots and meta tags, in order to locate data. But as the ability to search and to be found becomes so important on the web, certain players attempt to influence the seemingly objective interconnectivity tools in order to divert net traffic to their sites. This module will explore such tools and tactics and their current legal status.

June 14, Cybercrime (Professor Nesson) Cybercrime is an area that encompasses crimes that involve the web and that are committed either with the aid of computers or against computers and networks. These acts usually concern unauthorized access to computers, disrupting the operation of computer systems and networks, hacking, the installation of viruses, using false identities, etc. This module will deal with these acts and the challenges faced by law enforcement bodies to deal with them.

June 17, Online Business-Method Patents (Professor Fisher) This module will introduce the concept of online computer implemented ways of doing business. The ability to patent computer software and business methods is a recent development in intellectual property law and is well taken advantage of by thousands of applicants annually. Online BMPs, such as Amazon.comís one-click purchasing and Priceline.comís reverse auction, are omnipresent in the Internet world, but there are strong policy considerations that count against recognizing their validity. This module will survey the stricter recognition of BMPs worldwide and the current legislative attempts to narrow the ability to patent new BMPs.

June 19, Domain Names (Professor Fisher) Since the inception of the Internet, domain names have been a precious commodity. Although names in general are infinite in number, meaningful and attractive domain names are scarce. Conflicts emerge when two different individuals or entities are interested in registering the same domain name. This module will review the many regimes that attempt to settle domain name disputes in the US and worldwide, as well as investigate different mechanisms that attempt to solve the scarcity of domain names.

June 21, Jurisdiction and Zoning (Professor Zittrain) Legal doctrines, such as those concerning personal jurisdiction or involving conflict of laws, depend heavily on the physical location of the parties or the transactions concerned. Such principles are not readily applicable when applied in cyberspace. This module will present and deal with issues that involve jurisdiction questions over the Internet and will map current technologies that enable to locate the physical location of surfers.

Open Source/Shared Source The Microsoft Corporation has provided us three documents, which describe and defend the corporation's position on this issue.  In preparing for the July 3 session, you would find it useful to review these documents.  You are also invited and encouraged to discuss the arguments presented therein in the Online Discusssion Forum.

June 24, Access to the Internet (Professor Benkler) Using the Internet depends entirely on access to the network. This module will examine means of communication to the Internet, such as copper wires (telephone), coaxial cable (TV) and wireless networks. Additionally it will explore market mechanisms, their influence on individualsí ability to use the Internet, and their influence on the content that people can access on the Internet as a result.

 

 

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