Internet law relates to all the laws that govern the Internet and its use. Unlike in other areas where there are plenty of historical laws and precedents, the laws governing this technology and its use are also new. Internet law covers a wide range of issues and new laws are being enacted and courts are ruling on new areas as new problems develop.
Internet law can be divided into laws that deal with defamation, content and speech rights, copyright, trademark, electronic contracts, privacy violations, marketing, and jurisdiction. See below for more details about internet law subdivisions.
Online defamation can be a serious problem for both individuals and businesses because it can quickly reach a wider audience. As such Internet law covers online defamation through websites and social media. In order to determine who is responsible for the defamation one needs to use technical expertise to locate the server used and prove that the website was hacked or not hacked as the case might be.
Apart from defamation laws, Internet laws also protect the right to speech and expression.
As online content can easily be duplicated digitally, Internet law regarding copyright has to cover the rights and limitations of an user to copy content belonging to another.
Website users as well as website owners need to have electronic contracts in place to protect their rights. These contracts will be used by both parties as part of Internet law to settle any disputes that arise. With the development and use of electronic signatures, Internet law governing electronic contracts covers this as well.
As online communication is less expensive than physical mail, Internet law has evolved to regulate and prohibit spamming. Additionally, businesses that use the Internet as a marketing tool need to ensure that their marketing efforts cannot be labeled spamming.
One major area of concern in Internet law is the jurisdiction of the courts over the Internet and its content. This is because businesses and individuals can host their content in servers located abroad. Similarly, a hacker can be based in a foreign country. Internet law is developing to answer questions such as the jurisdiction of a court over a person residing abroad who defames a person living in the U.S. These questions and their answers are still being debated. However, Internet law has also succeeded in answering some of these questions of jurisdiction, especially as they occur within the U.S., but across state boundaries.
Visit cohenschneider.com to learn more about the areas covered under Internet law.