Internet Law Syllabus and Reader for Fall 2010

By Eric Goldman

I have posted my syllabus for this semester’s Internet Law course, my 16th year teaching the course. This blog post describes some of the latest developments with the class, including the changes from my 2009 course reader. For a more general discussion of the course’s pedagogy, see my Teaching Cyberlaw article.

Course Titling

The most obvious change is that I renamed the course to “Internet Law” from “Cyberspace Law”/”Cyberlaw.” I discuss the titling choices/dilemmas in my Teaching Cyberlaw article. Though it took a few years to pull the trigger, James Grimmelmann’s 2007 post helped convince me that I should rename the course.


Last year, I tried an experiment of allowing students to write a wiki entry for part of their course grade. I recapped my experiences with that experiment in this blog post. Although I might be willing to try the experiment again, this semester my teaching load will be too demanding as it is, so I didn’t think I could find enough time to support the students’ wiki writing.

As a result, the class is back to a 100% final exam. As you can see, for the first time I’m letting students choose when to take their exam within a set window. If you’ve offered exams on that basis and have any suggestions for me, I would be grateful to hear them.

Added/Subtracted Reader Material

It’s been an interesting year for Internet law, but I ended up adding only two new cases: Viacom v YouTube and Tiffany v eBay.

To decide what I add, I made a rough list of the most significant developments of 2010 so far. A preview of what might make the top 10 list at the end of the year:

* Supreme Court cases that weren’t: Bilski, Quon

* Trademark intermediary liability: Tiffany v eBay; Gucci v. Frontline

* Copyright intermediary liability: Viacom v YouTube; Arista v Lime Group

* Sony v Tenenbaum

* Google and China

* Google/Facebook product gaffes (Buzz, Street View, Instant Personalization) and the plaintiff bar’s excited responses to those gaffes

* Trademark owners giving up their lawsuits against Google (Rescuecom, Parts Geek and Ezzo). Also, Rosetta Stone v. Google (whenever the opinion issues)

* Barclays v theflyonthewall. One of the most interesting cases of the year.

Honorable mentions:

* Conflicting 3rd Circuit cases re student MySpace profiles

* Utah repealed its Spyware Control Act

* Anderson v. Bell (electronic signatures count for election petitions)

* Snap-on v. O’Neil. Perhaps the most interesting case of the year so far.

* FTC v. Twitter

* the new 1201 exceptions and the Fifth Circuit’s puzzling 1201 ruling in MGE v. GE

Materials I dropped from the reader this year:

* Perfect 10 v. Amazon. I never knew how to teach the Perfect 10 troika of 2007 cases, and in practice I ended up skipping this case last year to conserve time. I think the Viacom v. YouTube decision is a worthwhile substitute, even if it deals with different issues.

* Parker v. Yahoo. This was intended as a recap, but it covers some of the same ground as Ticketmaster v. RMG (which is popular with the students, BTW), and I also cut it for lack of time.

* the UDRP rules. I had included them for completeness, but I never really taught them in detail.

* My slides on keyword advertising and blog/social networking law.

Also, I learned that the federal cyberpiracy protections for individuals, formerly codified at 15 USC 1129, moved to 15 USC 8131. Just so you know!

BTW, I had been looking for years for a good keyword advertising case to teach. Last year, I thought the Hearts on Fire v. Blue Nile case worked well. It does a pretty good job framing the issues. I was also happy concluding the semester with the Moreno v. Hanford Sentinel case–it was a great pedagogical wrap-up.

Electronic Casebook

My other big news about the course is that I have converted my reader into an electronic casebook. This may not sound like much, but it took me a fair amount of time to re-edit the cases and collate the materials.

Eventually, I will probably turn the electronic casebook into an official “published” casebook that can be adopted by other professors. That will require more work to supplement the case materials with pictures, notes, comments, explanatory material, etc. I didn’t have time to do that this semester. Maybe next year.

However, I am making the electronic file available at Scribd as a $5 download. You can also buy a print-on-demand version from CafePress for $30 + shipping. This is a bit of an experiment to gauge general interest in the materials. Please let me know what you think of the experiment.

If you are a professor interested in adopting the materials for your course, I’m happy to provide you with a free editable copy of the materials (free to you and free for your students). Just email me.

Past Posts

My analogous blog posts from years past: 2009; 2008; 2007; 2006; 2005.

Upcoming Events

Two upcoming HTLI academic events this year are potentially interesting to cyberlaw specialists, so I’ll mention them here. On November 5, we’ll have a symposium on the First Sale/exhaustion doctrines, which will address a number of Internet legal issues. Then, on March 4, 2011, we’ll have our 47 USC 230 15-year retrospective/geekfest royale, an event you will NOT want to miss! Registration has just opened, and this event could sell out, so get your seat early.