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Freshman Seminar 40p - The Law of the Internet - Fall 2006

The Internet is at once a constructive and disruptive technology. As more and more of our lives move online, we are faced with opportunities to do new and amazing things. Concurrently, we encounter problems that no one anticipated as we collectively built the internet as we know it today. This seminar will consider some of the most intriguing of the issues to which the advent of the internet has given and continues to give rise. It will focus on a cluster of topics about which any computer user likely knows a good deal already: spam, spyware, peer-to-peer file sharing, personal privacy, and e-commerce. It will also venture into a few issues-like blogging, RSS (Really Simple Syndication), social software, and internet filtering-that may be less familiar. The internet and the practice of law are both increasingly global in nature, so the seminar will take special care to delve into basic topics in international law. A specific series of laws, regulations and policies related to online activities continues to evolve. In particular, the seminar will focus on the law of intellectual property related to the Internet-whether the IP relates to code, commercial data, music or other content-which has broad and complex application for anyone using the internet in the current multi-jurisdictional world. We'll consider who makes the laws in an environment that crosses national borders by its very nature and where enforcement is an extremely tricky matter. We will imagine what these new technologies might do to culture in the United States and to other cultures throughout the world, particularly those in developing countries. Participants should be willing to experiment with new information technologies in a learning environment.