Internet Law Resources
The resources provided here are those that we use, have used, or feel that might be of interest to our clients. This list represents a kind of digital law best of the web approach. Only resources that have stood the test of time are listed. What do we mean by that? These are resources that have shown some longevity and that are properly maintained (e.g. few, if any, broken links and relevant content that ranks high vis-a-vis update frequency). Also, these resources often link to other valuable resources and this allows an interested party to simply follow the links in order to acquire a fundamental understanding of the legal issues presented when doing business online. Some of these sites have a particular normative or legislative bent to their content. By linking to such sites we neither support nor reject their perspectives. It is simply indicative of our core belief that it is better to be well informed regarding forces that may be shaping the agenda.
Berkeley Center for Law & Technology (BCLT)BCLT has been around since 1995 and has "exploited" its proximity to the valley in order to provide programs and expertise related to high technology law useful to students, academics and practitioners. It states its mission as follows:
The mission of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology is to foster beneficial and ethical advancement of technology by promoting the understanding and guiding the development of intellectual property and related fields of law and policy as they intersect with business, science and technology.
The BCLT plays an important role in helping shape public policy. It also plays an important role in helping to educate federal judges and is a principle resource of the Federal Judicial Center. In short, it is one of the leading sites on web (arguably the most prominent) that lies at the intersection of law and technology.
Berkman Center for Internet & Society
From the east coast (Harvard University) we get the other academic powerhouse website for all things cyberlaw. This east/west split between Berkeley & Berkman tracks the technology & law influence centers of both coasts in the U.S.--from the Boston technology corridor and big media in New York (and of course Wall Street), to Silicon Valley, Hollywood and Seattle on the west coast. Berkman describes itself as follows:
The Berkman Center's mission is to explore and understand cyberspace; to study its development, dynamics, norms, and standards; and to assess the need or lack thereof for laws and sanctions. We are a research center, premised on the observation that what we seek to learn is not already recorded. Our method is to build out into cyberspace, record data as we go, self-study, and share. Our mode is entrepreneurial nonprofit.
Both websites are a kind of cyberlaw "watering hole" where industry luminaries are often interviewed and topical subject matter is often discussed.
BitLaw provides a literal "treasure trove" of over 1,800 pages related to patent, copyright, trademark, and Internet legal issues. It is well organized and conscientiously maintained. It provides commentary as well as convenient access to primary authority including treaties, statutes, cases and regulations. As you might imagine, it represents a high quality information destination for users seeking to improve their understanding of digital law.
BNA is a legal and business publisher. It produces a daily Internet newsletter that is widely read in Internet law circles. It is compiled by Professor Michael Geist, a BNA Consulting Editor. You can register for a free subscription to this newsletter here. BNA describes itself as follows:
BNA is the largest independent publisher of information and analysis products for professionals in law, tax, business, and government. We publish daily, weekly, monthly, and up-to-the-minute news covering the full range of legal, legislative, regulatory, and economic developments that impact the business environment.
In addition to the free newsletter, BNA offers paid content that might be of interest to in-house counsel and other interested parties.
Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT)
The CDT is a kind of Internet legislative "think tank." It is often called on to participate in Congressional hearings. It tracks and provides commentary regarding legislative initiatives that have online business implications. The CDT describes itself as follows: "[the] CDT is the primary advocacy group working before Congress and state officials to deflect proposals restricting access to, or trying to regulate, social networks." If something is happening in Congress that might impact your online business, the CDT is one of the better sites to get insights into what various commentators believe is at stake.
Cornell University Law School: Legal Information Institute (LII)
The LII is probably one of the most pointed to sites on the web. The entire United States Code can be found in a readily navigable (and "searchable") interface here. In addition, there are numerous other state and federal law resources as well as other relevant publications located on this site. If you want to read primary authority this is the place to go. If you want to search the legal web you can do so via a Cornell customized search engine here.
Creative Commons (CC)
CC describes itself as providing "free tools that let authors, scientists, artists, and educators easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry. You can use CC to change your copyright terms from 'All Rights Reserved' to 'Some Rights Reserved.'" CC was founded in 2001 and has a number of cyberlaw and intellectual property heavyweights on its board including: James Boyle, Michael Carroll, Molly Shaffer Van Houweling, and Lawrence Lessig. CC's mission is to establish a balanced copyright regime between the protection of private rights and the creation of public goods. Its artifacts can be found throughout the Internet and its website contains a wealth of information that is central to the core debate that defines its mission.
Digital Law Online
This is Professor Lee A. Hollaar's website which contains, among other useful information, his online treatise entitled "Legal Protection of Digital Information." This is an updated version of his BNA published book of the same title. The following excerpt is from Foreword of the treatise:
The Digital Age has added layers of complexity to copyright law and raised the stakes of copyright protection to levels never before imagined. While intellectual property lawyers, computer and software lawyers, and corporate counsel strive to understand the subtleties and hard realities of this “New Age,” we need to remember that copyright law is no longer just for lawyers and big media companies. It's the subject of newspaper articles, and has even made it into the comic strips. It affects every user of the Internet. But there is a great deal of misinformation about the copyright laws. The exclusive rights of a copyright owner go well beyond the right to make copies of a work. And yet it may be legal to make copies of a work without the permission of a copyright owner. Because the copyright statutes contain many special provisions, you can't simply assume that if an action is permitted with one type of work, the same action is also permitted with another type of work. For example, you can rent videocassettes that you own without restriction, but there are severe restrictions on the rental of records and software.
In short, there is enough information here to fill a first class treatise, which is exactly what the professor has provided.
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
The EFF has been around since 1990 and views itself as the "leading civil liberties group" on the Internet (i.e a kind of ACLU for Internet consumers). Its website tracks leading Internet cases and provides other useful information. Online businesses may support some EFF positions and at other times find themselves on the other side of v. It is a donation supported organization that is quite active and bears watching. In particular, the EFF has a number of FAQ's that are helpful if your are looking for "basics" on particular cyberlaw topics. For example, the basics regarding the law and blogging can be found here.
Online Internet Law Treatise
This is a wiki based Internet law treatise hosted by the EFF. It contains useful background information regarding a number of Internet legal issues, including relevant case law. The information may be dated so users are warned to only use the information provided as a research starting point. The site describes itself as follows:
This is a project to maintain a free, open licensed, collaborative treatise summarizing the law related to the Internet with the cooperation of a wide variety of attorneys, law students and others.
The Internet Law Treatise is currently in beta, please read the disclaimer. The Internet Law Treatise is based upon the Electronic Media and Privacy Law Handbook (Perkins Coie, Dec. 2003) ISBN 1879650118.
This site is runing MediaWiki (http://www.mediawiki.org), a free software wiki engine licensed under the GNU General Public License (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html).
The ILT is hosted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. EFF is a donor-supported membership organization working to protect fundamental rights regardless of technology; to educate the press, policymakers, and the general public about civil liberties issues related to technology; and to act as a defender of those liberties. The views expressed in the Internet Law Treatise are not necessarily those of EFF.
Eric Goldman: Technology & Marketing Blog
Eric Goldman is a law professor and prolific blogger on law and technology topics. He is "well connected" in the blogosphere and often cites other commentators discussing the results of specific cases. He blogs about cyberlaw issues in general but of particular interest are his posts related to Internet trademark issues and case law. Reading Eric's blog is an excellent way to track digital law conversations.
Institute for Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS)
The IAALS views its mission as follows:
The Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) is a national, non-partisan organization dedicated to improving the process and culture of the civil justice system. We provide principled leadership, conduct comprehensive and objective research and develop innovative and practical solutions—all focused on serving the individuals and organizations who rely on the system to clarify rights and resolve disputes.
The institute has conducted and published (among other things) research regarding eDiscovery and the costs associated therewith.
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)
ICANN was formed in 1998 and describes itself as a "not-for-profit partnership of people from all over the world dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable." While this may sound (and is) a somewhat lofty "mission statement" the organization's primary mission is to manage and coordinate the Internet's Domain Name System (i.e. the system that translates IP addresses into recognizable names such as www.google.com). The U.S. Department of Commerce selected ICANN for this role in 1998 and the DNS has remained under its care ever since. It plays a central role in resolving domain disputes via its Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (“UDRP”).
Internet Law Library
The Internet Law Library contains internet law articles, internet law statutes, internet law cases and resources. he Internet Law Library also has a sister site, Coollawyer.com Legal Forms, which offers internet law and small business legal forms, internet law monthly news, online incorporation services, an internet lawyer for hire, lawyer jokes and more.
This site has been around since 1999 and contains quality information on patents, copyright, trademarks, trade secrets and general information regarding how to do business online. It describes itself as follows:
IPWatchdog.com is dedicated to providing a free, reliable and easily understandable resource on intellectual property law and related topics. We promise to demystify intellectual property and explain to you what it is, why you would want to consider obtaining intellectual property rights and how to go about obtaining worthwhile intellectual property protection. We also explain various pitfalls to avoid, as well as what you can do to help yourself.
You will find well written content with cross references to other relevant material including statutes and case law.
Lawyers.com is a LexisNexis website that has a plethora of Internet law related information as well as other pertinent info. You can research legal issues, ask questions, and access other law related resources.
The Patry Copyright Blog
William Patry is one the preeminent copyright attorneys in the world. He is currently Senior Copyright Counsel for Google. He is also former copyright counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary. He is a recent author of a copy treatise and an all around "mover & shaker" in copyright circles. If you are interested in copyright you need to read Patry.
The Stanford Center for Internet & Society
The center is another academic institution in the heart of Silicon Valley with a special focus on cyberlaw issues. It describes itself as: "a public interest technology law and policy program at Stanford Law School and a part of Law, Science and Technology Program at Stanford Law School. The CIS brings together scholars, academics, legislators, students, programmers, security researchers, and scientists to study the interaction of new technologies and the law and to examine how the synergy between the two can either promote or harm public goods like free speech, privacy, public commons, diversity, and scientific inquiry."
Stanford has recently launched its IP Clearinghouse where it will store case on various intellectual property topics such as patents, trademarks and copyright. If must register to access this site and can do so here.
U.S. Safe Harbor Regarding EU Privacy Protection
The European Commission’s Directive on Data Protection went into effect in October of 1998, and would prohibit the transfer of personal data to non-European Union nations that do not meet the European “adequacy” standard for privacy protection. While the United States and the European Union share the goal of enhancing privacy protection for their citizens, the United States takes a different approach to privacy from that taken by the European Union.
In order to bridge these different privacy approaches and provide a streamlined means for U.S. organizations to comply with the Directive, the U.S. Department of Commerce in consultation with the European Commission developed a "Safe Harbor" framework and this website to provide the information an organization should need to evaluate – and then join – the Safe Harbor.
Wikipedia: Intellectual Property
Despite the fact that WikipediA is often much maligned, the free encyclopedia is an excellent starter resource for the lay public interested in intellectual property. The links on the site are well maintained and point to other relevant information. There is case law available under the various topic areas, with an organizational scheme that allows an interested reader to readily become immersed in digital law topics of interest. You will find sections on copyright, trademarks, patents and other related topics.
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
WIPO is an agency of the United Nations established in 1967 by the WIPO Convention. It is focused on establishing a balanced international intellectual property system and was given this mandate from its Member States. It administers the Madrid Protocol, an international treaty (and system) for registering trademarks with a single application that are given effect under the national laws of all signatories. The website houses high quality resources related to international intellectual property.
World Trade Organization (WTO)
The WTO is an international trade organization. As you might imagine, given the importance of intellectual property to both the developed and the developing world vis-a-vis trade, it has emerged as a powerhouse in this space. The work that it does related to e-commerce can be found here. The WTO also administers the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) which represents the international community's most prominent intellectual property agreement. If you want to track what is happening with digital law internationally then the WTO is one of several key stops.