July 16, 2013


Law 897: The Law in Cyberspace
Overview of the Seminar

From 1930 to 1941, New York University published the Air Law Review, devoted to the proposition that there was something distinctive about regulation of aircraft, flight, and radio broadcasting that defined a legal subspeciality, because all of them took place in the air. In 1941, the Review ceased publication.

Today, there are multiple law journals devoted to Internet law, and lawyers debate whether Internet law comprises a coherent legal field. Some commentators have suggested that the Internet poses unprecedented challenges to conventional law, which assumes that both regulatory and adjudicatory jurisdiction derive from geographic boundaries. Legal scholars have gone so far as to suggest that we treat the Internet as its own distinct jurisdiction, and adopt Internet-specifc laws, rules, and adjudicatory mechanisms. Others insist that talking about the law in cyberspace is as silly as talking about the law in the air. The Internet, they insist, is made up of computers and networks that, like the air, exist in extant jurisdictions and are subject to their laws. Both characterizations have a lot of truth to them.

In a very short time, the Internet has reshaped our lives. According to the Pew Internet and Life Project, 85% of American adults are Internet users, and and 65% have broadband Internet access at home. Nonetheless, we are still struggling to formulate the laws that govern cyberspace. A variety of efforts to apply current law to the Internet have yielded a variety of different results. Attempts to draw new laws to address the distinct problems of the networked digital environment have run into logistical and political problems as well as legal ones. The seminar will examine the law in cyberspace as it develops. Most of the assigned texts will be material available online.


Your grades will consist of three, equally weighted components:

Assignments and class discussion:


This document, the revised syllabus, the list of topics, and a bibliography of links will be available at http://www.umich.edu/~jdlitman/classes/cyber/.

I will post each of your reading assignments there, where they will remain available for the general public even after the semester has ended. Should the server go down, please let me know. I will post the current assignment in a backup location each week so that server problems won't prevent you from completing the reading assignments.



Go to the list of paper topics

Go to the seminar Syllabus

Go to the list of Sources

Go to the New Developments page

Send e-mail to me at jdlitman -at- umich.edu