This seminar will be devoted to a discussion of the ways in which cyberspace
makes a series of legal problems more difficult, easier or just more interesting.
The seminar will begin with a review of some of the utopian and dystopian
literature about the Net's likely effects on issues ranging from property
and community, to the news media and popular sovereignty. We will focus
on the ways in which the Net is both an easy and a hard case for libertarian
thought and discuss the constitutional implications of a new laissez-faire
digital private law. Are Hayek and Lochner alive and well on the Net? The
doctrinal focus of the seminar will be on state action, the First Amendment,
and privacy, though we will also touch on equal protection and procedural
due process. There will be particular emphasis on comparing the evolution
of state action doctrine in "speech tort" and in "speech property" cases
with the evolution of state action elsewhere. Students will have two options;
either a 60 page research paper on a topic to be agreed on, or a shorter
paper for class discussion on an assigned topic plus a final exam. In addition,
during the course of the semester, the class will be engage in a number
of short projects, such as writing a mock
opinion in ACLU v. Reno II, the challenge to the Child
Online Protection Act.
The class meets only once a week, but a fair amount of our class discussion will be carried on online. The discussion group for the class can be found here. Over the course of the semester, I will be asking a number of scholars of the Net to join us in online discussion. Generally, you will be asked to read their work and to post comments, questions and criticisms for them to respond to.