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Internet Law Journal Launched 64

deborah writes: "I came across an interesting blurb in my CWRU alumni magazine today. It's for a new journal focused entirely on Internet Law. As far as I know this is the first journal to focus specifically on Internet topics and it's surprisingly readable. Sample headlines include 'The Law on Hackers and Crackers' and 'The Legal Risks of Trademarks as Internet Search Terms'."
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Internet Law Journal Launched

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  • The trademark-related article is even more bullshit if other examples are considered -- all kinds of advertisement that mention competitors (positively or negatively). Not to mention that search keywords (in meta tags or somewhere else) may be automatically generated, and something as innocent as "Gnutella is a competitor to Napster" or "Ghostscript interprets Postscript files" in the title of the page will be used by search engines -- and rightfully so because person who asks for Postsctipt interpreters most likely will benefit from the knowledge of Ghostscript despite the fact that Ghostscript competes with that elusive Postscript interpreter from Adobe that isn't even ported for most of platforms.

  • On the terms of use point, they've got this [] squirrelled away and almost completely invisible - I couldn't see it linked to from anywhere but the homepage and it's easily missed, so I don't know who they think is going to be bound by it.

    Or, for that matter, how they think the provision of something freely distributed before sight of terms amounts to consideration, but they clearly know NY law better than I do.

    Hey ho. Let 'em go ahead, sue me in NY. See if I care. Because they excluded the jurisdiction of the UK court they'd have to enforce the judgment in...

    (And that, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly why any journal claiming to be for the internet as a whole has to look outside the US. Nothing further, your honour.)

  • For what its worth US News [] Rates the top IP law schools; however, it might be a good idea to talk with professors and former students who have been to the schools on your short list. When I started law school, I was limited b/c I had to continue working. Do you want to go full time (3 years) or part time (4 years)? If you are considering any law schools in New England, I'll be happy to relay my experiences, please feel free to email me.
  • great post, thanks.

    Here's some good reading (if you missed it) []

    This is an interesting thread, finally some of you snakes have slithered out, j/k. I was actually talking with my family the other day about going to law school specifically for IP. Any suggestions?

    And I do think that geeks might join lawyers, and doctors as one of the "smart asshole" professions, if we haven't already.
  • "I'm sorry, Senator Booblesnatch. Your Internet bill has been moderated (Score: -1, Troll)."

    Yeah.. moderation points in politics and the law... I like that idea!

  • And what do you call the New York Times cyberlaw section? First? Hrmph.
  • From my experience, the one thing /.ers can do VERY well is research. If you ignore the troll posts and turn moderation off, you can find a plethora of information on the subject at hand.

    When I was working as an RA for one of my professors on an Internet Law Book, I found /. to be more valuable than Lexis, Westlaw or Findlaw for researching facts. Lately, /.ers have been applying these skills toward legal precedent. IIRC, Zittrain mentioned the same when discussing the initial successes of Berkman's OpenLaw forum.
  • Subpoena

    XML is fine. XML is lovely. But putting unencrypted (or weakly encrypted) XML on Microsoft's servers is asking for severe amounts of pain.

    Even if it's strongly encrypted, the court may be able to ask you for your key. It's much better to do private client-to-client transfers of this sort of data.

    Still, that only works if Microsoft packages it as several discrete functions working together, instead of a monolithic GUI. We all know which way they tend to take these things, though.
  • Of course there have always been: That have been around quire a bit longer providing leading articles on the intersection of law and cyberspace (along with many others).


  • The rest of the article talks about all the legal hassles that you have to do to get the domain you want, but alludes to nothing more on searching for alternate domains.

    As it should -- it's *not* a technical article, or an internet culture article; it's a *legal* article. It's intended to talk about what your options are, with respect to the legal system, once you have decided there is a conflict between your desire and someone else's.
  • Yes but don't forget that laws in the US aren't even uniform, they vary from state to state. (e.g. Online Escrow services need a certain license to operate in California) This is not a small endeavor. I think it's great that someone is making this effort at all. It's a lofty goal.
    Indeed - and if they had called it something that was closer to it's actual implimentation - the All-states internet law site, or the American Internet Law site - then it would be a noble goal.
    However, they are claiming a bigger view than they actually intend to give - many Non-americans have gone and will go to the site hoping to find information that applies to them, and instead will find out american legal information - I am questioning labelling, not content.

    England is currently on the verge of the biggest invasion of personal privacy ever envisioned by a democratic government; Companies are making contingency plans to move management and major servers out of the country, and various authorities, from Law Enforcement though the intelligence services down to Tax, Excise and Health and Safety inspectors are eagerly awaiting the right to intercept web comms without a warrant, read email without the owner's knowledge or consent, and slap gagging orders with no termination clause on anyone who might protest.
    So, in the midst of all this, what is the only european story to feature? the fact that an ecommerce plan may make it easier for US firms to sell in europe. Even if I was an american shareholder in a american company with a UK branch, I would want to know this - but the website is silent.

  • As it should -- it's *not* a technical article, or an internet culture article; it's a *legal* article. It's intended to talk about what your options are, with respect to the legal system, once you have decided there is a conflict between your desire and someone else's.

    Yes, it's a legal article, but any decent lawyer should, when analyzing a client's situation, consider the question: Is there a satisfactory way this can be resolved without going through formal legal proceedings? (It somethimes seems that far too many lawyers bypass this thought.)

    The article seems to recognize this with Option 1, "try to handle the matter amicably and directly with the registrant," and I think that "find another domain name" is also something that should be considered. Choosing a different domain doesn't sound like a very "techie" solution to me; rather, it seems like a possible option that a lawyer should bring to a client's attention.

    Note: I am a lawyer, but this post does not constitute legal advice. If you think you need legal advice, contact an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.


  • Except that you lose on that theory.

    There are two silly little things working against you:
    1) Reciprocal treaties between those islands you live on, and the United States. Think: GATT, TRIPS, and the various WIPO treaties of which you are a citizen of a signatory country. Good idea, but you lose there.

    2) By using their service and agreeing to their ToS, you are purposefully availing yourself of their service and thus they have personal jurisdiction over you, see your local copyright laws written subject to the above mentioned treaties.

    Of course, IANAL, and this is not legal advice.

  • Well, no, not really. There's no reciprocal enforcement treaty between the UK and the US or any of the individual states - there's some judicial comity on enforcement, but not without review of merits.

    Those TOS are pretty much a dead letter under UK law, since they occur way too late to be incorporated in any contract on first viewing and almost certainly fall foul of our Unfair Contract Terms Act as to any subsequent viewing.

    Of the treaties/international organisations you mention, none have any bearing on a US firm, in New York, suing a UK subject in England. The treaties, in so far as they provide for anything, provide for common international standards or remedies in the infringer's home country for wrongs committed against foreign nationals.

    What they don't do is give the NY courts jurisdiction to do a damned thing to me over here in England (see above as to enforcement without review of merits).

    And they can't sue on that contract anywhere but in NY since it expressly provides exclusive jurisdiction (that is, not only do we have to litigate in NY, but we're not allowed to litigate it anywhere else).

    For the record, IAAL, but a UKQL not a USQL, and the above is a statement of how futile I think the ILJ TOS actually are for any reader outside the US, not advice you should act on.

    Although anyone dim enough to take serious decisions that might cost them money or liberty on the basis of /. postings is probably beyond help anyway.

  • Market for geeks-turned-lawyers?

    There appears to be. While I'm more of a lawyer-with-some-geek-skills-picked-up-here-and-th ere, I appear to be doing OK and I'd be making more if I could stand London.

    As a lawyer, your epilegal skills - languages, science, IT stuff, what-have-you make no difference to your status as a courtroom lawyer, and your practising certificate would (if you qualified in the UK) look exactly the same as mine. What it does do is give you knowledge of an industry that you can specialise in serving, and a real head start, not least because people in the hi-tech industries are used to having to use words of one syllable to their lawyers and accountants. With me, I understand quite a lot and can generally ask intelligent questions about the rest: the relief (especially with the engineers) is palpable.

    I also get clients calling me for tech support queries - apparently I'm cheaper than *Unnamed major software producer*'s support helpline (higher hourly rate but quicker on the draw) and more likely to give a useful answer.

    As to whether your should become a lawyer, the advice is this: don't do it for the money. Those who do make bad lawyers - bad for their clients and for society at large. Believe it or not, relative the to the effort and worry involved, most things are better paid.

    As it happens, the best rewards I get are from the work I don't charge for, the pro bono stuff. Even if I quit the life to go dig ditches for a living (and at 1am after seventeen hours on a pig-awful deal for a client you don't like it can look a bloody attractive proposition) I'd keep that up if I could. And if you have trouble believing that, stay the hell out of my profession.

  • There is one *big* limiting factor here, and it's that women have tended not to regard computers as a sufficiently big deal to spend time and effort studying them. And, here in the UK at least, some 55-60% of new entrants to the legal profession are women.

    So, in about five years time, all the guys in my class at law school will have partnerships and be forming their own departments. Of them, most will have owned computers solely for playing games, downloading porn and generally dicking about with no real understanding.

    They'll be the first wave of a generation that at least uses computers. Slightll less than half (by that stage - maternity leave slows down or stops a woman lawyer's career, except for the absolute brightest) will be women, whose IT-use demographic will drop the average level of tech involvement.

    Basically, then, the rise of technological awareness in the legal profession will, after about five or six years, mirror the rise in tech awareness in the general population with a slight bias toward the line of the graph for women.

    In other words, don't count on it.

    Certainly at the moment there are individuals who know what they're doing with the software and hardware - they're informed and intelligent users of the kit. I go a bit further, in that I can do most of my own maintenance and am perfectly happy to put together a complete system for my own use, albeit that I'm happier messing with the physical bits inside the case than with the software.

    As for the rest, well, it does what's required, the secretary knows how to make it do it, and all they need do is call IT if there's a problem.

  • Well said. I agree on almost every point.
    "I already have all the latest software."
  • Something like this has been needed for quite some time now. The subject of internet laws is to most people uninteresting and boring, I actually found some of the laws in The Internet Law Journal [] quite interesting, so not many people know what is ok and what isn't.

    There is a another topic here on /. posted yesterday about a man's company being audited and getting a hell of a beating ( />?sid=00/06/21/228218&mode=thread) [], and he, or his company, could have avoided all the hassle if they just knew the law's before they started their business.

    I hope more people find this Internet Law Joinal and avoid a mess of trouble.
  • Although I didn't see anything like DeCSS
    nope it gets a sidebar [] but is behind-the-times and consists almost entirely of links to other site's opinions of the matter.
  • RFC's are the only internet laws we need... To hell with all the legal mumbo-jumbo!
  • Internet and digital copyright law is really a growing field. Everything you do is for the establishment of new views on digital copyright. It almost makes me want to go back to school...
  • Actually, this brings up a good point. This law-journal is mainly just commentary on issues that, for the most part, are old news. How about a website that keeps track of the court status of all the pending legal matters that we read about here on Slashdot?

    Example...when CT or someone posts an article about a Internet-related legal matter, an entry is created that say something like "ABC vs XYZ, trial to begin 7/8/2000". Then on 7/8/2000 someone could make a point to find out if the trial was going or had been postposed, submit that information, and have the entry updated.

    I think it would be most useful because generally speaking there is a lot of posting when cases are filed and then you really never heard about them again. Or at least, that's just my general impression.

    Short of an area on Slashdot, could someone else create a site to help keep us all up-to-date on these kinds of issues? I actually looked up "Streambox AND trial" in several search engines and was surprised that the most recent information I could find was dated January 17th. How does one go about finding trial information if you only know the name of a plantiff or a defendant?

    - JoeShmoe

    -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= -=-=-=-=-=-=-
  • Why wouldn't it be?
    There are more than 60 MILLION people online in the states. Most other countries in the world don't even have that many people!
    Let's not forget to mention that the US controls the world. Everywhere you go you see examples of US culture. Even "behind the red wall" people are selling Levi's and Tommy Hilfiger clothing (OK it's fake but that's besides the point).
    Who is the watchdog of the world? US.
    Who keeps the peace when your back-asswards countries invade each other? US.
    Who financially bails countries out when their commie systems (rightfully) fail? US.
    The internet is US centric because the WORLD is US centric.
    Get over it.
  • <whine>
    When are we going to get "internet" sites that notice the rest of the world?"

    When the rest of the world gets off its ass and does it itself.

    If you want something, build it yourself.
    Why do people expect someone else to do everything and then bitch and moan about how it does not make every single person in the world happy?

  • Law journals are unique because unlike other journals, there is no peer review process. Anything that looks academic has a chance of getting published, regardless of whether it is based in fact or not. This happened in 1994 I believe, when the infamous "cyberporn" study was printed in the Georgetown law journal. The study, which suggested that most of the traffic on the Internet was weird fetish porn, was irresponsibly written and had no basis in science.

    I guess the publishers of this "Internet Law Journal" have every right to call it a journal, but if it continues to read like a newsletter I don't think it will be very respected. One article I clicked on (about the patent problem) actually turned out to just be a bunch of links to other law sites.


  • Actually, you'd be surprised how many lawyers are former techno-geeks. Though many lawyers still wish they wore wigs in court, quite a few are very technically literate.
  • by Masem ( 1171 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @04:37AM (#980952)
    While this is a good site for many issues, it's too tailored to those in the ecommerce field. In the domain name and trademark article, for example, they only talk about cases where the disputed domain was for-profit, and generally run by someone looking to make money. There's very little about non-profit, individual sites that have a legit reason to exist.

    Also, here's a snippet that made me blink twice in the article about securing and defending your domain name:

    Odds are, however, someone prior in time had a similar idea and the domain name you want is already registered by that person. Under these circumstances, three options exist: (1) try to handle the matter amicably and directly with the registrant; (2) file a law suit; or (3) arbitrate.

    Um, where's option number 4: Find another domain name? The rest of the article talks about all the legal hassles that you have to do to get the domain you want, but alludes to nothing more on searching for alternate domains. This is NOT the way that domain names were supposed to work, and given that this journal is proporting the 'new' way, I raise a few doubts about it.

  • This can't be a real law site. You said it yourself: it's surprisingly readable.

    The real law site would be called, and all its pages would get referred by an .asp script, which arbitrarily places you two directories lower and refers you to another script.

    It would then inform you that by reading this webpage, you're relinquishing all rights to the intellectual property contained within, including but not limited to misrepresentation, or defamation. But not in so few words.

    In fact, the only resemblance I see between this site, and a *real* law site is that this site is unreachable right now. But I'm willing to blame that on Slashdot.

    Anyone want to post a mirror, so I can try for an informed comment later? :)
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • I think I would have been more impressed had there been some way to find out from the site who the editors are and what their academic / legal credentials are.
  • Please dont try to divine my attitudes or intentions. I do not believe the internet belongs to the US, nor do I feel I have the superior attitude of "feel lucky you can play with it". I just didnot(and still dont) see where this new site claims to be the end-all for all internet laws everywhere. You claimed it was, and was lacking in non-US content. If it does claim to be the end all for all Internet law, you would be right, but again, I dont see this attitude on the site. Am I wrong?
  • When the rest of the world gets off its ass and does it itself.
    I can live with that - I know of uk sites that cover uk law, and australian sites that cover australian law. however, we aren't talking about a US site that covers US law here, we are talking about one that broadly claims to cover the entire internet - but can't look outside the US border unless it can see a reason US readers would be interested.
    Your post is as much a part of the "it's our Internet and you foreigners should be happy we let you play" attitude as that website is - a US-centric site is fine; once they start claiming the Global view, it seems reasonable for them to back it up by actually having a Global vision.
  • First of all, if you want to see all cola sites, search for cola, not coke.

    This article isn't saying that it's illegal for people to make comparisons. What it's saying is:

    Pepsi and Coke have websites.
    Coke is losing in the market.
    So, to draw in customers, in the meta-tags, it places "pepsi".

    THIS is supposedly copyright infringement. (I don't know the laws, just I think I understand both sides here)
    Now, if there was a page that had the results of a taste-test between pepsi and coke, then you could use meta tags with Pepsi and Coke in both.

    That's what they're saying. I partially agree.. nothing pisses me off more than pr0n sites loading their ad pages with meta tags for everything in the world unrelated to it. So I want to see that done away with. But if pepsi and coke both use those "illeagal" meta tags, screw it! This is commercialism, not kindergarten. Customers will decide who they want most, and frankly, I don't think a meta tag hurts there.

    Oh, well. I'm sure that there were a few of our infinite monkeys out there writing that article..

  • I don't know if I buy this crap about meta tags.

    If I want to search for cola sodas and I type in Coke, I think I'd like to see all the cola soda sites out there, not just Coke.

    So if this meta tag crap is legal, why can't I sue my competitor for appearing next to my add in the Yellow Pages. That's a search, right? Maybe Coke should sue Pepsi b/c Pepsi appears right next to Coke in the grocery store. That's a search too. Hell, why can't Coke sue me for saying Pepsi in the same sentence, I'm probably not treating their trademark with proper respect and obedience.

    Ahhhh! I hate lawyers and American law. It's so NOT about truth and justice.

    The truth lies somewhere between 'Famous Potatoes' and 'Live Free Or Die'. (George Carlin paraphrased).

    P.S., For all those about to point out the Yellow Pages argument flaw, pretend it's the white pages and the company names are "Al's Tires" and "Amy's Tires". If you don't like Al and Amy, contrive your own names such that they're close together in the alphabet. That's not the point.

  • I would like, if I may, to bring to the forefront a historical document which I feel has particular bearing on this matter.

    Most especially each party shall have a right to carry their own produce, manufactures & merchandise, in their own or any other vessels to any parts of the dominions of the other, where it shall be lawful for all the subjects or citizens of that other, freely to purchase them; and thence to take the produce, Manufactures & merchandise of the other, which all the said citizens of subjects shall in like manner be free to sell them, paying in both cases such duties, charges & fees only, as are or shall be paid by the most favored nation. Nevertheless the king of Prussia and the United States, & each of them, reserve to themselves the right where any nation restrains the transportation of merchandise to the vessels of the country of which it is the growth or manufacture, to establish against such nation retaliating regulations; and also the right to prohibit, in their respective countries, the importation & exportation of all merchandise whatsoever, when reasons of state shall require it. In this case the subjects or citizens of either of the contracting parties shall not import nor export the merchandise prohibited by the other; but if one of the contracting parties permits any other nation to import or export the same merchandise, the citizens or subjects of the other shall immediately enjoy the same liberty.

    This is Article 4 of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce of 1785 []. This is not revisionist history - it is directly quoted from historical documents. Make of it what you will. Seeing as the U.S. government played a rather conspicuous role in the development of the internet, I would encourage everyone to take a look at this treaty, which bears information that is relevant to current internet law.

  • Great Gaia...

    Let me get this straight... is this the popular view of the majority of Americans?? Are you all so ego centric that you can't see that this is exactly the kind of attitude that starts wars??

    For example, what is the base reason that Serbia invaded Croatia?? Because Serbs are better than Croats. Why are all these middle eastern countries going through "ethnic cleansing"?? Because the race performing the cleansing is better than the people being cleansed. Or, let's take it back to something that the American's have been patting themselves on the back for for decades... WWII. Why did the Nazis want to take over the world?? Because the germanic people were better than everyone else.

    Now, I may be mistaken, and I may have taken your comments out of context, but is this not essentialy what you just said??

    Allow me to expand on some things here. First, communism is not inherantly flawed. Karl Marx had a good idea, pure, unadulterated equality for all mankind. The flaw lies not in the philosophy, but in the fact that people are greedy, untrustworthy, basic, animalistic brutes. If people could give up greed and jealousy, it would work swimmingly. Second, the US's "peace keeping" efforts are little more than a massive military flexing its biceps and saying "settle down, or else". Canadians are peacekeepers, the British are peacekeppers, Americans are international police, and not the good kind, more like the Rodney King kind. Thirdly, what right have you to declare yourselves the watchdog of anything, with as much domestic turmoil and such a patchy history, you shouldn't even be allowed to be the global crossing guard.

    Finally, the world is NOT US centric. I personally, and any Canadian I talk to who is not a politician couldn't care less what the States say. Even some of the politicians figure there are some issues that you simply have no concern in (I cite as example the whole Canada trading with Cuba fiasco) and I would imagine that every country in the western world wishes you would just get your nose out of our business.

    I understand that this is probably a flame, and most definately flamebait. But I'm tired of Americans getting up on their high horse and declaring that the rest of the world is, quite simply, wrong unless they do everything the States tell them to. We are no longer in colonial times, and none of us are part of your country. Butt out.
  • by bda ( 85447 )
    "As far as I know this is the first journal to focus specifically on Internet topics and it's surprisingly readable."

    The International Journal of Communications Law and Policy [] has been around for a while. It focuses on Internet and other media topics, so I guess you could disqualify it for being too broad-minded, but still ...

  • Try llrx [] They've been online for years. Sabrina Pacifici knows her stuff!
  • Blockquoth the poster:
    This means that just under half the people you'll ever deal with are, frankly, shitheels. It is for this reason that you need - when dealing with anyone whose bona fides you are not absolutely sure of - the protection of a legal system that will enforce contracts and punish/compensate for wrongs done. Unless and until the human race cleans up its act, laws will be needed.
    "The need for Law is evidence of humanity's fall from grace. The existence of Law is evidence of our long climb back."
    --- Karl Evander Kaufeld
  • Please dont try to divine my attitudes or intentions.
    hey, all I have to go on is your own words:
    When are we going to get "internet" sites that notice the rest of the world?"

    When the rest of the world gets off its ass and does it itself.

    Feel free to tell me how I am misinterpreting...

    I do not believe the internet belongs to the US, nor do I feel I have the superior attitude of "feel lucky you can play with it"
    If you haven't, you are doing a good job of giving that impression. if it looks like a duck, moves like a duck and quacks like a duck....

    I just did not(and still don't) see where this new site claims to be the end-all for all internet laws everywhere.
    Lets see:
    Name of site: The Internet Law Journal
    Byline: The internet law journal: where the Internet and the Law converge
    Section byline: Here you will find the lastest breaking headline news concerning Internet Law.

    Ok, so there's the internet bit. lets look for bits that state or even imply it is a US-centric site...

    still looking..

    nope. It's the internet law site, for breaking news in internet law, and it's where the internet and law converge.

    You claimed it was, and was lacking in non-US content. If it does claim to be the end all for all Internet law, you would be right, but again, I dont see this attitude on the site.
    Probably the problem is with your vision, not the site - you see nothing wrong with a site being US centric without actually having "US law" or even "US" anywhere on it.

    Am I wrong?

  • Law journals are most certainly peer reviewed (well, reviewed by law students who tend to know the law as well as practicing attorneys and many law professors). The Georgetown article was really an abberation and the product of a broken process, and NOT typical of most law journal publications.
  • Why not have your lawyer submit an article to the website and have them publish it relating something other then the US and internet law
    As it happens, I did. I they haven't even bothered to reply as of yet....

    It says you can right on the website (guess you must have missed that)!!!
    Nope, saw it, copied down the email address (not for submissions you notice, just a contact in case they are interested)
    It's been over a week now, and they haven't gotten back to me. OTOH, the most recent of their "breaking news" is June 08 - perhaps they have moved on to Texas to do "The cattle law website, for breaking news on cattle; where cattle and the law converge"

  • There does appear to be a burgeoning market. I still make my living in software and information related environments. I recently finished my second year of law school, and find most of the horizons relatively bright.

    From my experience, the IP firms recruit vary heavily; however, I've seen approaches that extend far beyond IP. Increasingly, you see regulatory provisions (re: FCRA, Gramm-Leach-Bliley, etc.) start to embrace the technology. In simple contracts, there is still a lively debate on whether click-through, click-wraps are binding agreements. IMHO, criminal law is a wide-open area. Barry Scheck has made a huge impact by being a lawyer that understood DNA enough to challenge expert testimony. Wouldn't you think that *NIX skills would work in offering or debunking evidence testimony. I think the antitrust possibilities speak for themselves.

    I am not sure if the media is pushing the market or vice-versa, but IP has been the area that seems to offer the highest marketability in my area of the country.

    As for my peer-students, the number of computer professionals is surprisingly small. I am the only one I know who has done programming. I do have a classmate who works as an admin consultant for Cisco, and another who sold GPS software.

    The classes can be fun as well. Many of the professors appear to be fascinated by the impending changes due to information tech. and biotech. Many classes resemble slashdot style forums (re: Professor brings in news clip, and spends a portion of class on debating outcomes) albeit with a different demographic.

    The only downside (IMHO) can be time. I still have a growing family to support and have to work. Law classes due require time, and even the part-time programs require 10-12 hour courseloads per semester.

    I know there are lawyers and law students that contribute here. It might be interesting to see how they view the horizon.
  • As for the proposal of a consurtium of geeks to write the laws relating to technology, it's not a bad idea as far as it goes. As a practical matter, the consortium should include a few lawyers simply to supply the necessary expertise in how best to frame laws and make them workable. Don't hold your breath for this to happen any time soon, though. The politicians have gotten themselves a near-total monopoly on making laws, and don't look likely to give up on it any time soon. I could not agree with you more; however, do you think there is a horizon when this will change? Without too much social commentary, its clear that there are a common group of legal/moral/ethical ideas that are espoused on /. Whether or not these rise to the level of a cultural movement, I do not know. However, I would imagine that enough people share these ideas that would be: (1) In high school (2) undergrads (3) or young enough to make a career change. Inevitably, some of them will follow the law. Also, it appears that the market has pushed so much young talent into IT, people making the transition have a chance to be leaders in the legal industry. Wouldn't the introduction of these ideas move the law close to the division of law makers that understand tech. I know the horizon may be long; and I'm not sure how far away you are from law school; however, I do recognize the impact of the sixties in my law school professors. In the interim, there may be opportunities for impact. /. alone appears to encourage people to make their voices heard. The Berkman OpenLaw forum appears to be an early success. The content of many of the amicus briefs occur from non-lawyers. I have found that most counsel, and even law school professors, have a very limited understanding of mainstream tech, much less advance tech. However, some of the most popular CLE programs deal with Scientific Evidence and Using the Internet. The state bar periodicals (at least in MA) have started to include sections on using tech in practice. What type of time horizon do you see b/4 there can be real impact by a generation of technology understanding lawyers.
  • All I have to say is "Finally."
  • I think from now on, everyone who writes "IANAL" should link that phrase to this site.

  • While not an academic journal, TechLawJournal [] is a news site that focuses on legal developments that will effect the technological community. It is a great resource that is constantly updated.
  • Considering the huge amounts of litigation and legal maneuvering going on over the net recently I'm suprised that one of these hasn't gone up before. However, this looks good and I'm sure that /. will find as many opportunities to link to it as possible, for all of those IANAL posts :)

    Jon E. Erikson
  • by nigiri ( 22248 )
    First came the churches, then came the schools,
    then came the lawyers, then came the rules.

  • by FreeJack1 ( 203705 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @03:15AM (#980974)
    What I find humourous about this is that these "Internet Laws" are or will be made up by corporate and professional legals who have little or no techno-experience. I'd be willing to bet that they probably have never heard of the terms: "open source", "Linux-driven server", "OpenVMS", and the list continues. What they should do if they really feel a need for these laws is gather together a type of consortium consisting of a multi-national group of mature "techno-geeks" who would moderate and ensure fair and properly written bindings. Hopefully that came out ok, My mind works much faster than my fingers can keep up....
  • Well, IAAFL, and I specialise in this sort of technically- and technologically oriented work.

    For the record, I know what those terms mean, and the meaning of many, many others. For the ones I don't know, I know where to look and/or who to ask. In any event, the criticism is about as meaningful in this context as my upbraiding C++ programmers generally for not knowing about LPR Corrosion Rate Measurement techniques, mitochondrial DNA or structural mechanics: these things are unnecessary to someone selling their services as a code-writer unless and until it impacts on the task at hand.

    As for the need for "such laws", it's there, no matter what field of human endeavour you consider. I regret very much to inform you of this, but human beings are, from just below the average on down, at least one and usually more of: venal, corrupt, greedy, mendacious and stupid.

    This means that just under half the people you'll ever deal with are, frankly, shitheels. It is for this reason that you need - when dealing with anyone whose bona fides you are not absolutely sure of - the protection of a legal system that will enforce contracts and punish/compensate for wrongs done. Unless and until the human race cleans up its act, laws will be needed.

    People being what they are, laws tend to end up being extensive and, while usually simple in detail, complex in their overall effect. Just like, in fact, high-level programming languages. A modern and developed legal system, necessary for the reasons outlined above, creates a need for professional lawyers in exactly the same way as a modern and developed technology of computing creates a need for computer programmers.

    I mean, in theory, if I needed a small application written and there was nothing out there that did precisely what I wanted, I could get a few books on appropriate programming languages and set to with a compiler and hope in my heart (occasionally, I do, for small things - I happen to enjoy doing it).

    In practice, I'd go see someone with the appropriate expertise and get them do it for me.

    It's the same with lawyers. There's nothing to keep you from drafting your own contracts and suing people in your own name. In practice, it's easier - and, if you're in business and you can use your time to make money - more cost-effective to hire someone with the expertise who has already, at his own expense, acquired the necessary skills and knowledge to do the job and do it more effectively and efficiently than an absolute beginner.

    As for the proposal of a consurtium of geeks to write the laws relating to technology, it's not a bad idea as far as it goes. As a practical matter, the consortium should include a few lawyers simply to supply the necessary expertise in how best to frame laws and make them workable.

    Don't hold your breath for this to happen any time soon, though. The politicians have gotten themselves a near-total monopoly on making laws, and don't look likely to give up on it any time soon.

  • I for one welcome a site like this: It provides a focus for new leglislation affecting the Net. Although I didn't see anything like DeCSS (I think Cryptome has that one sewn up), this could be a useful sight for lending focus to the whole DMCA/UCITA/RIAA/MPAA/allthatstuff type of issue. I just hope that they keep the reporting impartial and not too biased towards the men in suits.
  • by pen ( 7191 )
    Better yet, Rob should just implement it into Slash. :) Anyone up for writing a patch?


  • If YANAL, you will remain NAFL after reading this. The use of the word "Journal" is completely fucken pretentious for what is most definitely a newsletter -- I counted no academic contributors, plus damnably few citations of statute or case law. This is not a serious legal journal -- it's aimed at the non-legal community, to allow law firms to tout for business. Clearly it has to make its own reputation, but its starting credibility with me is low.
  • This is an important step: such a journal is essential to spreading insights on the nature of the internet and its denizens to lawyers of all levels, and so promoting the underlying views we so vehemently try to save from the crushing power off crass commercialism. Without knowledge, there can be no understanding, and without understanding, there may be no future.

    I sincerely hope this journal will help resolve legal issues as yet untouched, rather than having to fight each little bit in courts, like we're focred to do now. All in all, a hopegiving new effort.

    It takes a lot of brains to enjoy satire, humor and wit-

  • by DaveHowe ( 51510 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @03:27AM (#980980)
    Hmm. it seems to suffer from the usual blight of "internet" websites - it assumes the US is the only country whose laws matter (the only major article on the EEC is one that describes the advantages to American businesses of the new EEC ecommerce initiative - no mention of the eec anti-hacking and english RIP measures being fast-tracked through their respective processes; there is also a sidebar commment on the new english Healthservice-online self-diagnosis helpsite, that wouldn't overflow a standard slashdot header box. When are we going to get "internet" sites that notice the rest of the world?
  • Yes but don't forget that laws in the US aren't even uniform, they vary from state to state. (e.g. Online Escrow services need a certain license to operate in California) This is not a small endeavor. I think it's great that someone is making this effort at all. It's a lofty goal.
  • First of all, I'm a lawyer and I know what all the terms you mentioned mean. The first thing I do when I arrive at my office is read /. As for your suggestion that we assemble a geek think tank, I think you're on the right track to the extent that there needs to be dialog between lawyers and pure technologists. However, writing the law is a bit like writing code -- but there are tolerances built into the law for prospective contingencies that cannot be captured in a purely logical model, and the courts should be thought of as debuggers. But don't forget that the law is fundamentally driven by, applied by, interpreted by, and written by human beings. There is a degree of imperfection built into the legal system. For instance, the law of equity allows a judge to exercise his or her personal discretion under circumstances where pure application of the law runs afoul of the particular facts. Discontinuities in the law are common and should be viewed as an acknowledgement that human systems will never execute with the same precision as a computer.

    The only thing as rare as a lawyer that genuinely knows technology is a geek that can articulately express him or herself. I hear a lot of gripes from geeks about lawyers; so my gripe with geeks is that their credibility is almost always undemined by their total lack of persuasive skills. Are you surprised that geeks feel powerless when (as a group) geeks cannot even spell? Do you even understand, while you read this, why spelling and grammar and diction matter? My gripe with geeks is that they each walk around with a huge brain stuffed full of techno-esoterica, but have totally neglected the skill set that allows them to pass that information on to others. To retain control over your personal brain-trust is fundamentally arrogant, and on a societal level totally counter-productive.

    Having revealed to you my rather bigoted opinion of geeks writ large, you should take a moment to reflect on the possibility that lawmakers are not a uniform class of morons, and that the concepts driving our system of jurisprudence are actually quite sound and have worked pretty well for many years without granting a veto-power to a star-chamber of engineers.

    The recurring anti-lawyer theme on slashdot can be explained as follows: geeks are trained to apply elegant and efficient solutions to problems, while lawyers are trained to apply eloquent and articulate interpretations to problems; the animosity of geeks against lawyers (and vice versa) is driven by a misunderstanding of the roles each other plays.
  • As in I Am Now A Lawyer?
  • Agreed. I'd rate this as "quite good, as far as it goes", which is not very far at all.

    I've bookmarked it though, since it's:

    1. Free, and
    2. Quite a handy noter-up of current US issues with enough citation and reference to make a handy starter-for-10 in researching a point, although it remains to be seen what the archiving is going to be like.

    There's a more serious criticism, though, and that's that it's almost entirely US-focussed. (it would be entirely, but for that piece on the EU directive, which in any event is aimed squarely at a US reader.

    This, frankly, won't do for a publication aimed at internet issues, which by their very nature involve consideration of issues of Private International Law.

    On balance, I'd say /. was actually slightly more useful...

  • I mean their setup [] is nice, but, wait a minute, is that FrontPage/ I see?

    Damn it! now I'm going to be seeing '?'s everywhere. And it had so much promise, being Linux and all.

  • It seems like it's time to start my online legal service. I think I'll call it :)
  • by FascDot Killed My Pr ( 24021 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @03:30AM (#980987)
    OK you lawyers who want to make money off the Internet, come read this this journal. That's right, stand a little closer together, come on, there's room for everyone. Now don't move for a second....


    ....there, I think I got 'em all.
  • Though I'm sure we're all sick to death of the legal acrobatics surrounding the Internet, this is a breath of fresh air. Concerns aside, at least this site gives a chance for people to discuss, write about, and read about Internet law. After perusing the page for a few minutes., it seems well-done, clear, and useful.

    My only gripe is one I doubt this site will address very much - the ridiculous amount of lawsuits and the bizarre, comtribution-driven evolution of Internet law. Then again, it's a good start.
  • Even if it is a troll, it's frightening, how many people in US sincerely believe in it.

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll