Freshman Seminar 43z.Cyberspace in Court: Law of the Internet - Fall 2008
Half course (fall term). Thursday, 3-5:30.
The internet is at once a constructive and disruptive technology. The migration of more and more of our
society, culture, and lives online offers unprecedented opportunities for everyone to do new and amazing
things. At the same time, that migration creates conflicts and collisions that no one could have anticipated
even a few years ago. Partisans in these conflicts frequently turn to the courts and/or to the
legislative branch for the outcomes they desire. This seminar will consider how some of the most
important and intriguing collisions of interests in the online space have played out or are playing
out now in lawsuits in the courts or in proposals before legislatures, both in the US and abroad.
These include highly visible controversies involving Google, YouTube, Apple, Microsoft, MySpace, and
others. The seminar’s focus will center on a cluster of topics that includes copyright and fair use,
peer-to-peer file sharing, digital rights management, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA);
online speech, anonymity, and privacy; citizen journalism and new media; competition and antitrust;
pornography, child protection, and online gambling; and security and malware. The seminar ultimately
will examine broad questions of social and technology policy through the lens of law and specific
lawsuits. No technical knowledge is required but students should be open to experimenting with new
information technologies in a learning environment. Course requirements will include active
participation in class, regular reading of a handful of internet-law blogs, periodic short blog posts
during the semester, and a 15-20 page paper or equivalent project due at the end of the semester.
Note: Open to Freshmen only.
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