The Difference Between the Internet and the World Wide Web

As a digital media lawyer, it often frustrates me when people confuse the Internet and the World Wide Web in legal agreements.  They are not the same thing!  There was recently a great article on Motherboard summing up some of the differences.  As that article explains,  the Internet is the network — it is made up of the systems and protocols that let computers and other networks communicate with each other.

The Internet is much older than the World Wide Web (which just turned 25 years old), having its roots in military research and education institutions.  The World Wide Web is a graphical interface of pages that use the Internet as a back-end platform and is just a small part of the Internet.  This is the part of the Internet you access through a web browser and search on Google.  The World Wide Web uses Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP).

There are other consumer facing uses of the Internet platform, varying from e-mail, to voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) telephones, to instant messaging.

These are some very basic suggested definitions.  These should be expanded and modified for each particular agreement.  Please use the comments to suggest ideas.

Internet” means the decentralized, public, global, network of computers and other electronic devices delivering IP-based signals.

Internet Protocol” or “ IP” is a protocol used for communicating data through packets across a network of computers.

World Wide Web” means the part of the Internet accessed through a graphical user interface, typically as websites through web browser software.

 

More by | Seth Metsch Seth Metsch , Law.com Contributor
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