Internet Law


James Grimmelmann

☞ Now available: Thirteenth Edition ☜

Features of the Thirteenth Edition include:

Overview | Features | Table of Contents | FAQ | Author

A Fast-Moving Casebook for a Fast-Moving Subject

I love Internet law, and since the day I started teaching it, I’ve tried to share my enthusiasm with my students. The thirteenth edition of the casebook reflects sixteen years of work. I designed it to help law students thrive in the face of the constant ferment of the Internet itself. Internet Law: Cases and Problems combines clear organization, classic cases, and a focus on the doctrinal fundamentals with challenging questions and problems that bring students face-to-face with the challenges facing the Internet and Internet lawyers today.

Thanks to Semaphore Press and its innovative business model, I’m pleased to be able to offer Internet Law: Cases and Problems for a fraction of the price of a major-label casebook. Semaphore casebooks are sold as PDF downloads. There’s no DRM, so you can read the book and annotate it on your computer in your regular PDF reader, copy it to your portable device to read on the go, and print out as much or as little of the book as you want. If your computer crashes and you need to download the book again, you’re always welcome to.

The all-digital format means we cut out the middleman and pass the savings on to you. Unlike casebooks from the major publishers, which can cost $150 or more, the suggested price for this casebook is just $30. Think of it as my contribution to keeping the price of legal education down.

Sound good? Read on for the full spiel.


We’ve All Got Problems

When I titled this book “Internet Law: Cases and Problems,” I meant it. Most sections of the book have one or more problems applying the material from the cases to real-life situations. Are you ready to outwit a child pornographer, lobby Congress, draft a website’s terms of service, catch a hacker, and help a company recover from a disastrous bug? By the time you finish this casebook, you will be.

Bleeding-Edge Coverage

Internet law doesn’t sit still for a moment. Neither does this casebook. In it, you’ll find ripped-from-the-headlines coverage of ongoing controversies, including the right to be forgotten, nonconsensual pornography, copyright trolls, Bitcoin, and network neutrality. If it’s not in Internet Law: Cases and Problems, it hasn’t happened yet.

If you’re looking for the classics of the Internet Law canon, don’t worry. ACLU v. Reno, Zeran v. AOL, and many of your other favorites are invited to the party, too. But I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you see who’s sitting next to whom and what they have to say to each other.

Absurdly Logical Organization

Each section in the casebook examines a small set of closely related issues: for example, how courts have applied the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to computers, or the successes and failures of the different legal theories used to assert trademark rights over domain names. Each chapter pulls together a set of related sections to examine a single area of law (e.g. privacy or copyright) in appropriate depth. Each section and chapter follows a natural progression from foundations to applications. Five running themes — code is law, governmental control, private power, generativity, and online equality — tie the book together, emphasizing what these topics have in common.

No Hidden Balls

Learning Internet law is hard. It doesn’t need to be unnecessarily hard. In assembling this casebook, wherever possible I picked cases that confront commonly recurring issues, whose reasoning is clear and straightforward, and whose holdings have been followed by other courts. Next, I edited the cases ruthlessly to take out everything but the good bits, and followed them with clear questions to direct attention to the most important issues they raise. Then I wrote introductory primers on topics like how computers and the Internet work, the basics of the First Amendment, and the history of telecommunications regulation. The book doesn’t throw students into the deep end, but it does help them get there quickly on their own.

Joie De Vivre

Studying Internet law can and should be fun. Most of the cases feature highly memorable facts. You’ll meet rogue graduate students, copyright scofflaws, spammers, scammers, and entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes. Many of the questions draw on your personal experiences with the Internet (and see if you can spot all of the cultural references in the names in the problems). Throughout the book, I’ve done my best to make the tone engaging and accessible, even when discussing technical subjects.

Table of Contents

Full table of contents


How does this “suggested price” PDF download thing work?

Semaphore has pages explaining the deal in more detail for students and professors. I hope you will agree that it’s a fair shake for all involved.

One third of the net revenues from sales of this edition of Internet Law: Cases and Problems will be donated to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. In the EFF’s own words:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. We work to ensure that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected as our use of technology grows.

I interned at the EFF during law school, and many of the ideas in this casebook grew from seeds planted that summer. That said, this book’s contents are inde- pendent of the EFF and its mission — as they are of all outside influence. The EFF and I have no control over each other, and we don’t necessarily share the other’s views on any particular issue.

Is there a printed version?

Sure is: just hit the “print” button in your PDF reader. Every download of the book comes with full permission to print out as much (or as little) as you need for your personal use. Another advantage of distributing the book as a PDF is that we don’t need to waste trees giving hard copies to people who don’t need them.

There’s also a paperback print-on-demand version. The $75 price includes the $30 suggested download payment (along with Amazon’s fees), so if you buy one, you’re welcome to download a PDF copy from the Semaphore website for free for your personal use for as long as you have the paperback copy.

Is this book suitable for my students?

Yes. Internet Law: Cases and Problems has been adopted for use in over fifty law schools, large and small. It’s been assigned in lectures, seminars, clinics, and independent studies. It’s also been used in undergraduate courses for students studying engineering, business, government, and communications. No one has ever come back to me to say that the book didn’t work for them, and many professors are using it year after year.

How do I adopt the book for my class?

Since the book is distributed as a PDF, there’s no need to have a book order in to your school’s bookstore months in advance. Just tell us you’re using the book, direct your students to Semaphore’s website, and you’re good to go.

Is there a teacher’s manual?

Sure is. It includes teaching suggestions for every case, brief answers to every question, and discussion of the issues raised in every problem, plus sample syllabi, deleted scenes, and a blooper reel. If you’d like to see it, just email me for a copy.

Will the book be updated?

I teach Internet Law annually, and I’m committed to keeping the book fresh and up-to-date. Online publication means we can push out new editions with impunity. Expect detailed updates and improvements every summer.

I’m a law student and my professor isn’t assigning Internet Law: Cases and Problems. What should I do?

Open your eyes as wide as possible, and ask your professor to switch books in your most endearing voice.

No, seriously, there are other good books on the subject. Your professor may have chosen one of them because its approach more closely fits the way they teach. You might consider using Internet Law: Cases and Problems as a supplement for self-study: the $30 suggested price means that it costs less than many hornbooks and commercial outlines (and there aren’t many of them for Internet law to begin with).

I’m not a law student. Is this book right for me?

I hope so. The larger issues the book engages with should be of interest to anyone who cares about the Internet, and “the law” can be surprisingly accessible to non-lawyers. I’ve tried to tell interesting stories while being informative about how legal issues play out online.

Fair warning: it will probably be tougher going for you than for a law student, since you won’t have had the same practice reading judicial opinions, and some of the questions will refer to concepts taught in other law school courses. Still, I hope you will give the book a try. If you do, I would love to hear from you about the experience; please let me know how I can make it more accessible and useful for a broad audience.

I found a mistake in the book. What should I do?

Oh, noes! Please email me so I can improve the next edition.

I have a suggestion for the book. What should I do?

Hooray! Please email me so I can improve the next edition.

How can I find out more?

If you have unanswered questions, just email me.

About the Author

James Grimmelmann is the Tessler Family Professor of Digital and Information Law at Cornell Tech and Cornell Law School. He has degrees in computer science and in law, and has worked as a computer programmer. He helps lawyers and technologists understand each other. He is the author of numerous academic papers on topics such as search engines, privacy, Internet history, and copyright. He has been blogging at since 2000.

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