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“The GigaLaw Guide to Internet Law: The One-Stop Legal Resource for Conducting Business Online” by Doug Isenberg Random House Trade Paperbacks, 400 pages, $17.95 In recent years, laws relating to the Internet have been increasing exponentially — as if there is a Moore’s Law of laws. Courts and congresses have blissfully ignored John Perry Barlow’s 1996 declaration that cyberspace is inhospitable to government — if they ever read it at all. But the rush to make and/or find law for the Internet has not been a vast government conspiracy to dash the idealism of the early cybernauts without provocation. It’s been a response to the real-world effects of the Internet: children getting porn that they otherwise could not get; political dissidents getting and giving news they otherwise could not get and give; people selling, trading and giving away things — often things they did not have or did not have the authorization to sell or give away. And with the courts and legislators have come the commentators and law professors — sometimes ahead, sometimes behind, sometimes in parallel maneuvers to map the new territory and try to make sense of it all. Doug Isenberg’s “The GigaLaw Guide to Internet Law: The One-Stop Legal Resource for Conducting Business Online” takes its place among a growing field of legal guides, treatises and textbooks all dedicated to explaining and exploring legal issues generated by the Internet. “The GigaLaw Guide” is competent and generally accurate, but is not as user-friendly as it could be and reads like a series of essays not woven together into a whole. “The GigaLaw Guide” is arranged topically and covers most of the key subjects that should be in a legal primer on the Internet: free expression, copyright, trademarks and domain names, electronic contracting, privacy and patent law. There are a couple glaring omissions on this list, which I’ll discuss below, and probably too much time is spent on some topics and not enough on others. For example, there are about 40 pages in the book on patents that can affect the Internet, but only 23 pages on electronic contracting. Yet, nowadays, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is rejecting 70 percent of business method patent applications while, at the same time, the thicket of complex electronic contracting case law is growing — meaning the legal distinctions are getting subtler and more difficult to describe. A large chunk of the book (about 60 pages) is devoted to employment law issues that are not that Internet-relevant — much of these pages boil down to “don’t be idiotic about your own company’s e-mail.” At the same time, the book has very little about “trespass to chattels,” an old common-law cause of action that has been reborn, mutant and unpredictable, in a number of Internet cases — prompting questions and confusion about what people can do in relation to other people’s Web sites and e-mail. “The GigaLaw Guide” is similarly quiet on the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a federal statute that overlaps this idea of “trespassing” on someone else’s computer. One symptom of the book’s feeling like separate essays with only one editorial pass to integrate them into a book is the great amount of repetition. Another symptom: interesting parallels between different areas of law go unmentioned. For example, the book has a good discussion of how courts balance defamation claims against constitutional protection of anonymous speech, but no connection is drawn to the same problem in pursuing “cybersquatters” or copyright infringers. The synergy between the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and electronic contract law is also largely unexplored. That being said, “The GigaLaw Guide” is a more-than-adequate introduction to several areas of Internet law, including U.S. First Amendment issues, U.S. copyright law and the U.S. and international systems for dealing with trademark and domain name disputes. With some exceptions (like the domain name discussion), “The GigaLaw Guide” takes an Americentric approach that is reasonable for the likely readers, but understates the profoundly transnational nature of these legal problems. For example, while there is a chapter on European data privacy law (written by Peter Yu), there’s little or no discussion of the European Union’s 2001 Copyright Directive, 2000 E-Commerce Directive or 1996 Database Directive. That leads to one critical substantive shortcoming with the book — there are no chapters devoted to the vexing problem of jurisdiction in Internet disputes. On the Internet, you need to worry not only about why you might get sued, but also where you might get sued. For example: The Wall Street Journalonline facing defamation claims in Australia; a cybersquatter in Illinois being dragged into court in California; and a California writer sued for online defamation in Washington, D.C. In all these cases, the courts found jurisdiction. Yet, “The GigaLaw Guide” does not discuss the principles that have emerged, at least in U.S. courts, for when jurisdiction is properly asserted for Internet activities. “The GigaLaw Guide” has a helpful index, but in other ways it is not as user-friendly as it could be. For example, the footnotes themselves are all to Web sites. Maybe that makes a nice socio-cultural statement about the subject matter, but it would have been better to have had actual case citations and paper media references for when those ephemeral Web site addresses change or disappear. Another quirky thing about this book evinces how much it is still just a collection of essays. The cover and title page list Doug Isenberg as the (sole) author, but of the 35 chapters, 13 were written by another six people: Doug Towns, Greg Kirsch, Peter Yu, Jonathan Winer, Chris Wolf and Jay Hollander. This is acknowledged in the table of contents and a contributors’ section at the end of the book, but the 13 chapter titles are silent on their separate authorship — even Doug Isenberg’s “author’s note” doesn’t mention his co-authors. The collective effort is so low-profile that when I agreed to review the book I wasn’t even aware that one of my colleagues had contributed to the volume. One does not get a sense of deception, but only that Isenberg was rushed to finish the book and didn’t want to take the time to reconstruct or rewrite what are plain vanilla narratives himself. (Another example of this is how his copyright discussion on page 36 is taken verbatim from the Copyright Office site, www.loc.gov/copyright/ legislation/dmca.pdf.) I would have expected the cover and title pages to at least acknowledge that 35 percent to 40 percent of the book was written by other people. Perhaps that is the clearest indicator that this book isn’t as well thought through and executed as it could be. Justin Hughes teaches Internet Law at Cardozo School of Law in New York and was a policy expert on Internet and intellectual property issues for the Clinton administration. He can be reached at [email protected]or [email protected].

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