When Eric Goldman started practicing law, the Internet was a different place from the one we know today: a world of dial-up bulletin boards and web precursors like “Usenet” and “Gopher.” The legal aspects of cyberspace were murky at best. “I joined the Cooley Godward firm in Palo Alto in 1994 and I told them I wanted to do Internet law,” recalls Goldman, now a professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law and prominent technology law blogger. “And they said, ‘That sounds great. If we have any Internet law stuff, we’ll let you know.”

Since then, Goldman has chronicled how the law has coped with the modern Internet, using his academic perch to try and make sense of a chaotic space. In this episode of Unprecedented, Goldman talks about one of the biggest legal flashpoints for Internet companies — Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — and asks how courts will know when a smiley face emoji really means something more.

Listen to the full podcast below.

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About the podcast: “Unprecedented” is a biweekly podcast hosted by Law.com reporter Ben Hancock about technology, the law, and the future of litigation. Based in San Francisco, Ben writes about third-party litigation finance, legal data analytics, artificial intelligence, privacy, and related issues. Listen to more Law.com podcasts here.