Teaching Cyberlaw Article

By Eric Goldman

As part of the recent St. Louis University Law Journal’s issue on Teaching Intellectual Property Law, I published a short article entitled “Teaching Cyberlaw.” The abstract:

“Over the past dozen years, Cyberlaw courses have become a staple of the law school curriculum. This Essay, part of a Spring 2008 St. Louis University Law Journal issue on Teaching Intellectual Property Law, explores methodological and pedagogical issues raised by these courses.”

This article, based on my experiences teaching Cyberlaw for the past 13 years, organizes my thoughts about the pedagogy of teaching Cyberlaw, including course titling, doctrinal coverage, teaching materials and more. I think the article will be particularly interesting to folks teaching the course for the first time, but I expect veteran Cyberlaw professors will find a few interesting tidbits as well. I was given a limited word count cap, so I didn’t intend to make this article exhaustive. Instead, I view it as a tentative and limited effort to help kick off a community discussion about how we teach the course.

On that front, I am scheduled to be the Chair of the AALS Law & Computers Section in 2009, which principally means that I will help organize the Law & Computers session at the AALS Annual Meeting in New Orleans in January 2010. (Hard to believe, but it’s less than 18 months away!). One idea I’ve been considering is to have a panel discussion about Teaching Cyberlaw issues at that session. Comments/thoughts?

When i did my research for my Teaching Cyberlaw article, I didn’t find any other law review-style articles that addressed Cyberlaw pedagogy at any length. Then, just as my article was going to press (and therefore after I could make any changes), a topical article emerged: Patrick Quirk, Curriculum Themes: Teaching Global Cyberlaw, International Journal of Law and Information Technology, March 2008. Quirk uses the article to enumerate 10 topical “themes” that are likely to be omnipresent in Cyberlaw courses both today and in the future:

“Where are we? (Jurisdiction),

Who are we? (Transacting via networks),

Who pays us? (E-money and funds transfer),

Who protects us? (Spreading and transferring transactional risk),

Who funds us? (The other type of computer ‘security’),

Who taxes us? (Who doesn’t?),

Who bugs me? (Network crimes and misdemeanors),

Who came before me? (Historical analogies for technology regulation),

Who watches (over) us? (Ubiquitous privacy issues),

The pervasive problems of intellectual property.”

I definitely organize my course differently, but vetting different organizational approaches is part of the pedagogical fun.