I’m teaching a module on Internet Law and Governance at Seton Hall Law School again this semester. Here is some of the introductory material for this week, including a video lecture I created:
For our first class, we will discuss some basic principles of Internet “governance.” I put “governance” in quotes here because, as you will see, there is no single source of legal norms for the Internet. Much of the “law” of the Internet is what we call “soft law” — that is, a relatively loose collection of principles and standards held together mostly by contractual relationships.
My experience teaching this material to law students over the past few years has shown that it can be a bit frustrating for you to get a handle on what you are supposed to be learning. By now, you are used to areas of law governed by a somewhat coherent set of Constitutional, common law, and/or statutory and regulatory principles, from which you can derive legal tests for liability or compliance that can be applied by courts. That is not, usually, how Internet governance works. Internet governance is fuzzy. If you continue on and take any of the other modules in our “Cybersecurity” or “New Media” sequence, however, you’ll see that having a sense of the contours of this fuzziness is important to the more specific legal issues arising from things like copyright in YouTube videos or government e-mail surveillance. So, for now, enjoy the ride.