2013 Internet Law Syllabus and Casebook Now Online

By Eric Goldman

shutterstock_117185428.jpgI have posted my 2013 Internet Law syllabus and updated and expanded casebook ($8 DRM-free PDF download). It’s hard to believe this is my 19th year teaching the course! (For more background on the course, see this essay). In this post, I’ll explain what’s changed from last year.


This year, I added a midterm option. It’s really difficult to justify offering students only a single graded evaluation during the semester, and the 100% final proved to be a trap for the unwary. I’m hoping the midterm will flag students who might be in trouble for the final exam so we can arrange timely intervention.


I made a lot of changes to my course reader this year, so I’m upgrading its characterization to a bona fide “casebook.” It’s still sparse compared to typical casebooks, but that’s consistent with my pedagogical approach of covering fewer original materials in a little more depth. Structurally, I’ve integrated numerous posts from my Forbes Tertium Quid blog, expanded the notes and updated a few cases. Some of the more noteworthy changes (I made many more beyond these):

Contracts. I added a note about the Schnabel case. I also added my Forbes posts on contract formation (the JDate post) and amendment (the Zappos post).

Trespass to Chattels: I deleted the WEC case, which kind of fell flat when I taught it. Instead, I touch on the CFAA’s role in the employment context using my Forbes essay decrying online trespass to chattels doctrines generally.

Copyright. Let’s be honest: online copyright law has devolved into absurdity. There is virtually no way to rationalize the precedents. We’ve got the Cablevision line of cases, leading to the triumph of engineering over legal principles. I added a note about Aereo on this point. We have the “volition” line of cases, which no one understands either. I added the Giganews ruling to address that. I still have no idea what to make of the Flava Works case. We have the inducement doctrine, including the baffling and exceptionalist Fung ruling plus the quirky David v. Download.com, and I added notes about both.

Finally, we have 512, which has produced such twisted and contorted precedents that I don’t know how to summarize the legal doctrine. I replaced my 2011 edit of UMG v. Shelter Capital with the 2013 amended version; I added notes about Viacom on remand, the post-Viacom-remand revised MP3Tunes ruling; and the Grooveshark disaster. UGH. As I’ve explained before, 512 is a miscalibrated safe harbor, and I can’t express how unenthusiastic I am about trying to teach this material coherently.

Trademark. I updated the 9th Circuit’s Sleekcraft Model Jury instructions. I added excerpts from my Forbes post on General Steel v. Chumley and notes about 1-800 Contacts v. Lens.com, the financial futility of keyword litigation, and Tre Milano.

Privacy. I added some definitions from the new COPPA regulations.

Section 230. I added my expert report on Section 230.

Social Media. I added my blog post on social media password laws and links to the materials I generated from Cynthia Moreno’s guest lecture to my class last November.

Casebook Table of Contents

Here’s the casebook’s complete table of contents:

I. What is Cyberspace? Who Regulates It?

ACLU v. Reno (CDA I District Ct. Facts Only) Page 1

Noah v. AOL (E.D. Va.) 20

Geolocation: Core To The Local Space And Key To Click-Fraud Detection 28

II. Jurisdiction

Evaluating if Personal Jurisdiction is Proper 37

Toys ‘R’ Us v. Step Two (3d Cir.) 38

Illinois v. Hemi Group (7th Cir.) 47

III. Contracts

Specht v. Netscape Communications (2d Cir.) 49

Register.com v. Verio (2d Cir.) 68

Courts Won’t Bail You Out If You Can’t Remember What Contract Terms You’ve Agreed To 78

Harris v. Blockbuster 80

How Zappos’ User Agreement Failed In Court and Left Zappos Legally Naked 83

IV. Trespass/Computer Fraud & Abuse Act

Review: the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act, 18 USC §1030 [http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1030], and California Penal Code §502 [http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=pen&group=00001-01000&file=484-502.9]

Comparison of Trespass to Chattels Doctrines 87

Intel v. Hamidi (Cal. Sup. Ct.) 88

Register.com v. Verio (Trespass to Chattels section) 108

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Is a Failed Experiment 109

V. Copyright

Copyright Office Circular 1 113

Goldman’s Fair Use Cheat Sheet 120

Cartoon Network v. CSC (2d Cir.) 121

MGM Studios v. Grokster (Sup. Ct.) 134

Secondary Liability

Review: 17 USC §512 [http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap5.html#512]

UMG v. Shelter Capital (9th Cir. revised opinion) 147

Celebrating (?) the Six-Month Anniversary of SOPA’s Demise 164


Ticketmaster v. RMG 170

VI. Trademarks and Domain Names

Review: 15 USC §1114 [http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/15/1114], 15 USC §1125 [http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/15/1125] and 15 USC §8131 [http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/15/8131]

Trademark FAQs 182

Trademark Glossary 184

A. Domain Names and Metatags

Review: ICANN Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy [http://www.icann.org/en/help/dndr/udrp/policy] and Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy [http://www.icann.org/en/help/dndr/udrp/rules]

Lamparello v. Falwell (4th Cir.) 187

Promatek v. Equitrac (7th Cir.) Original Order and Revision 199

B. Search Engines

Review: Google’s Trademark Policy [https://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/answer/6118]

Network Automation v. Advanced Systems Concepts (9th Cir.) 206

Suing Over Keyword Advertising Is A Bad Business Decision For Trademark Owners 220

With Its Australian Court Victory, Google Moves Closer to Legitimizing Keyword Advertising Globally 223

Tiffany v. eBay (2d Cir.) 225

VII. Pornography

Pornography Glossary 239

Reno v. ACLU (Sup. Ct. 1997) 240

Ashcroft v. ACLU (Sup. Ct. 2004) 259

VIII. Defamation and Information Torts

47 USC §230 273

Zeran v. America Online (4th Cir.) 276

Fair Housing Council v. Roommates.com (9th Cir. en banc) 283

The Value of Consumer Review Websites and 47 U.S.C. § 230 311

IX. Privacy

Review: 16 CFR Part 312 [https://www.ftc.gov/os/fedreg/2013/01/130117coppa.pdf (starting at page 38)]

Excerpts from 16 C.F.R. Part 312, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act’s Regulations 313

In re. Pharmatrak (1st Cir.) 315

X. Spam

Review: CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 [http://uscode.house.gov/download/pls/15C103.txt] and 16 CFR Part 316 [http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?c=ecfr&rgn=div5&view=text&node=16:]

Where’s the Beef? Dissecting Spam’s Purported Harms 325

MySpace v. theglobe.com 333

XI. Blogs and Social Networking Sites

The Third Wave of Internet Exceptionalism 342

Doe v. MySpace (5th Cir.) 344

Zimmerman v. Weis Markets 351

Big Problems in California’s New Law Restricting Employers’ Access to Employees’ Online Accounts 354

In re Rolando S. (Cal. App. Ct.) 356

Moreno v. Hanford Sentinel (Cal. App. Ct.) 361

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