Fall 2006 Cyberlaw Syllabus

By Eric Goldman

I’ve posted the syllabus for my Fall 2006 Cyberspace Law course. As I have done for the past 11 years, I prepared my own materials. To do so, I cull through all of the action from the past year to see what changes I should make from the prior year’s syllabus. In the late 1990s, a lot–1/3 to 1/2–of the pages would change from year-to-year. In the past couple of years, this pace has slowed considerably. This year, I added only 3 new cases and 1 new statute to the reader:

* the Lamparello case (which I actually substituted in last year after I prepared my 2005 syllabus)

* Perfect 10 v. Google and Field v. Google. They make an excellent compare-contrast unit. They also provide enough material to moot the 2003 Ticketmaster ruling, which I dropped this year.

* I substituted in the Alaska anti-adware law to replace Utah’s anti-adware law.

Beyond those additions, I substituted in the 7th circuit ruling in the BMG v. Gonzalez case for the district court ruling, and I dropped the FTC v. Phoenix Avatar spam case and my short editorial on advertiser liability for adware (neither of which I had time to cover).

I could make an argument that the past 12 months have been comparatively slow in cyberlaw (by cyberlaw’s historical standards), at least in terms of significant precedent. There have been some fairly important rulings (the KinderStart, JR Cigar, Merck v. Mediplan and Edina Realty cases come to mind) and interesting developments (the Sony DRM episode, click fraud lawsuits and the battles over search engine queries come to mind), but very few of these cases or episodes resulted in important/pedagogically useful precedent or statutes. Not that I’m complaining–it may just be a sign of cyberlaw’s maturation.

Interestingly, although blog law is hot, I couldn’t really find anything useful to teach on the topic. I think this reflects that blog law is just a seamless part of cyberlaw. As a result, I’m sure I’ll integrate blog issues into the course throughout the semester.