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 U.S. and abroad. These include highly visible controversies involving Google, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Microsoft, 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, accountability, and privacy; citizen journalism and new media; competition and antitrust; and pornography, child exploitation, and child safety. 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 20–25 page paper or equivalent special project due at the end of the semester.