Cyberspace Law

Professor Eric Schlachter

University of San Francisco School of Law

Spring 1996





1.         Class Meetings.  The course will meet every Tuesday from 6:30 to 8:30 in Room 103. The first class will meet on January 9, and the last class will meet April 30. Pursuant to University regulations, there will be no class January 16 or March 5. The final exam will be Tuesday, May 14, at 6:30.


2.         Prerequisites.  There are no required prerequisites other than the completion of the first year core courses. Those students who have taken courses in Intellectual Property or the First Amendment portion of Constitutional Law will find special insight. No prior online experience is required; however, I expect that substantive online exposure (either before or during the course) will be required to fully understand the course materials.


3.         Grading.  The course will be graded on a final exam. The final exam will be 2 hours long and will consist of 2-3 questions, primarily focusing on practical business applications of the material discussed in class. A set of sample questions is included at the end of the reader.


4.         Papers.  Cyberspace law is a wonderful topic to write scholarly or practical papers about and to see those papers published. Although the supply/demand equation is slowly approaching equilibrium, there remains plenty of opportunity for creative, well-written papers to carve out a niche. I am happy to help students seeking to express their ideas within the parameters of my time constraints and University regulations, which restrict me from acting as a formal advisor to more than 3 students. I have included a list of possible topics in the reader, and I have many resources that would help initiate a research project.


5.         Email.  Any student who has not already done so should obtain an email address through the Computing Center. The course will have its own listserv for intra-class discussions. I encourage all of you to act as “smart agents” for the rest of the students and post appropriate material to the listserv (watch for copyright infringements!). Individual inquiries to the professor should be sent to the professor’s email address, not the listserv.


6.         Professor Contact Information.

Eric Schlachter, Esq.

(415) 843-5154 (direct)

(415) 857-0663 (fax) (I check this account 2 times per day)





Required: Course reader


Strongly recommended: Lance Rose, NetLaw (1995)


Optional: Edward Cavazos and Gavino Morin, Cyberspace and the Law: Your Rights and Duties in the Online World (1995). If you are interested in an early but prescient treatment of the future, I encourage you to put Ithiel de Sola Pool, Technologies of Freedom (1983) on your reading list.




1.         Introduction to Cyberspace.  (January 9)


Eric Schlachter, Internet Primer (April 1995). P. 8.

Jeffrey K. MacKie-Mason & Hal Varian, Economic FAQs About the Internet (June 1995). P. 14.

Dan Gillmor, Oh, What’s the Use?, San Jose Mercury News, February 15, 1995 at 1A. P. 35.

[*] Josh Quittner, The War Between alt.tasteless and rec.pets.cats, Wired, May 1994 at 46. P. 37.


Recommended: Cavazos & Morin, Chapter 1.


2.         Jurisdiction and Venue. (January 23)


U.S. v. Robert Thomas, portions of Brief of Appellant on Appeal from the US District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. P. 45.

Pres-Kap, Inc. v. System One, Direct Access, Inc., 636 So.2d 1351 (Fla. App. 1994). P. 65.

Minnesota Office of the Attorney General, Memorandum regarding Internet Jurisdiction (July 1995). P. 68.

Electronic Frontier Foundation Amicus Curiae Brief in US v. Thomas, April 19, 1995. P. 72.



CompuServe v. Patterson, 1994 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20352 (S.D. Ohio, August 11, 1994). P. 82.

California Software Incorporated v. Reliability Research, Inc., 631 F. Supp. 1356 (C.D. Cal. 1986). [Not included in reader]


Scheduled speaker: Thomas Nolan, appellate attorney for Robert Thomas.


3.         Access, Editorial Control, and Sysop Liability. (January 30-February 20)


NetLaw, Chapters 1 and 4.

Eric Schlachter, Electronic Networks and Computer Bulletin Boards: Developing a Legal Regime to Fit the Technology (Spring, 1994). P. 101.


Publisher Law

Smith v. California, 361 U.S. 147 (1959). P. 108.

Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo, 418 U.S. 241 (1974). P. 117.

Daniel v. Dow Jones & Co., 520 N.Y.S. 2d 334 (N.Y. Civ. Ct. 1987). P. 127.


Communications Law

[*] F.C.C. v. Pacifica Foundation, 438 U.S. 726 (1978). P. 132.

Sable Communications of California, Inc. v. F.C.C., 492 U.S.115 (1989). P. 155.


Private Property

Wooley v. Maynard, 430 U.S. 705 (1977). P. 164.

Loretto v. Teleprompter Manhattan CATV Corp., 458 U.S. 419 (1982). P. 170.


Public Forums 

Perry Education Association v. Perry Local Educators’ Association, 460 U.S. 37 (1983). P. 178.


Cubby v. CompuServe, 776 F. Supp. 135 (S.D.N.Y. 1991). P. 183.

Playboy Enterprises v. Frena, 839 F. Supp. 1552 (M.D. Fla. 1993). P. 192.

Sega Enterprises Ltd. v. MAPHIA, 857 F. Supp. 679 (N.D. Cal. 1994). P. 202.

Stratton Oakmont v. Prodigy, 1995 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 229, 1995 WL 323710 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. May 24, 1995). P. 211.

Geoffrey Moore, The 1st Amendment is Safe at Prodigy, New York Times, December 16, 1990, at 13. P. 219.


ISA’s Amicus Brief in Stratton Oakmont case (June 1995). P. 220.

Firm to Drop Suit Against Prodigy, San Jose Mercury News, October 25, 1995 at 3C. P. 229.


Religious Technology Center v. Netcom On-Line Communication Services, Inc. (N.D. Cal. November 21, 1995). P. 230.


Stern v. Delphi, 626 N.Y.S.2d 694 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1995). P. 249.


Eric Schlachter, Stern v. Delphi: Are Online Services ‘News Disseminators’?, Boardwatch, August 1995 at 110. P. 256.


It’s In the Cards v. Fuschetto, 535 N.W.2d 11 (Wis. Ct. App. 1995). P. 259.


Eric Schlachter, Cyberspace, the Free Market and the Free Marketplace of Ideas: Recognizing Legal Differences in Computer Bulletin Board Functions, 16 Hastings COMM/ENT 87 (1993) (see [Not included in reader]


Scheduled speaker on February 20: Lisa Gerhauser, General Counsel, Hotwired.


4.         Special Issues in Defamation. (February 27)


Reread Cubby v. CompuServe, Stratton Oakmont v. Prodigy, It’s In the Cards v. Fuschetto.

Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. v. Greenmoss Builders, Inc., 472 U.S. 749 (1985). P. 263.



Rindos v. Hardwick, no. 1994 of 1993, (W. Austrl. Sup. Ct. March 31, 1994). P. 274.

Cavazos & Morin, pages 78-84.


5.         Obscenity, Pornography and Child Pornography. (March 12)


NetLaw, Chapter 8.

Reread US v. Thomas, Playboy v. Frena.


Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973). P. 281.

Stanley v. Georgia, 399 U.S. 557 (1969). P. 288.

Mike Godwin, Sex and the Single Sysadmin, Internet World, March/April 1994. P. 293.



NetLaw, Appendices G and H.

Cavazos & Morin, Chapter 6.


6.         Intellectual Property. (March 19 - April 2)


NetLaw, Chapter 3.

Reread Playboy v. Frena, Sega v. MAPHIA, Religious Technology v. Netcom. Also, read U.S. v. LaMacchia (below).


17 U.S.C. 106, 107. P. 302.

Sony Corp. v. Universal City Studios, Inc., 464 U.S. 417 (1984). P. 304.

Feist Publications v. Rural Telephone Service Company, 111 S. Ct. 1282 (1991). P. 321.


John Perry Barlow, Selling Wine Without Bottles: the Economy of Mind on the Global Net, Wired, March 1994 at 85. P. 335.

Esther Dyson, Intellectual Value, Wired, July 1995 at 136. P. 351.

Lance Rose, The Emperor’s Clothes Still Fit Just Fine, Wired, February 1995, at 103. P. 358.

Eric Schlachter, Intellectual Property Protection Regimes in the Age of the Internet (June 1995). P. 361.

David Post, New Wine, Old Bottles: The Case of the Evanescent Copy, American Lawyer, May 1995 at 103. P. 370.



Eric Schlachter, Generating Revenues from Websites, Boardwatch, July 1995. P. 374.

Terry Carroll, Copyright FAQ [not included in reader]

IITF White Paper (September 1995) [not included in reader]

Cavazos & Morin, Chapter 4.


7.         Trademarks and Domain Names. (April 9)


Dan L. Burk, Trademarks on the Infobahn: A First Look at the Emerging Law of Cybermarks, Richmond Journal of Law & Technology, Volume 1, Issue 1 (1995). P. 379.

MTV Networks v. Curry, 867 F. Supp. 202 (S.D.N.Y. 1994). P. 398.

Joshua Quittner, Billions Registered, Wired, October 1994 at 30. P. 405.

Jefferson Scher, Observing Netiquette, San Francisco Daily Journal, April 21, 1995 at 5. P. 409.


8.         Privacy, Anonymity and Transactions. (April 16)


McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission, 115 S. Ct. 1511 (1995). P. 412.


Digital Personas

Robert S. Boyd, ‘Free Offer Outlet’ on ‘Net Can Be Costly, San Jose Mercury News, July 5, 1995 at 1F. P. 418.

Eric Schlachter, War of the Cancelbots! (December 1995). P. 420.

Lance Rose, Anonymity Online: Its Value, and Its Social Costs, Boardwatch, June 1995 at 100. P. 424.



Lisa Morgan, Cashing In: The Rush is on to Make Net Commerce Happen, Internet World, February 1995 at 48. P. 427.

David Post, E-Cash: Can’t Live With It, Can’t Live Without It, American Lawyer, March 1995 at 116. P. 431.



Cavazos & Morin, Chapter 2 (privacy).

Cavazos & Morin, Chapter 3 (transactions).


9.         Fourth Amendment/ECPA. (April 23)


NetLaw, Chapters 5, 6 and 7.

Steve Jackson Games, Inc. v. U.S. Secret Service, 816 F. Supp. 432 (W.D. Texas 1993). P. 435.

Affirmed 36 F.3d 457 (5th Cir. 1994). P. 445.



NetLaw, Appendix B.


Scheduled speaker: Mike Godwin, Online Counsel, Electronic Frontier Foundation.


10.       Computer Crimes.  (April 23)


18 U.S.C. 1030. P. 455.


[*] U.S. v. Baker, 890 F. Supp. 1375 (E.D. Mich. 1995). P. 459.

U.S. v. LaMacchia, 871 F. Supp. 535 (D. Mass. 1994). P. 473.

U.S. v. Morris, 928 F.2d 504 (2d Cir. 1991). P. 487.

U.S. v. Riggs, 743 F. Supp. 556 (N.D. Ill. 1990). P. 495.



NetLaw, Appendices D and E.

Cavazos & Morin, Chapter 7.


11.       Other Resources.


Sample Test Questions. P. 501.

Memo regarding Online Shrinkwrap Contracts (with example) (September 21, 1995). P. 503.

Cyberspace Law Bibliography (November 1995). P. 507.

Domain Name Bibliography (November 1995). P. 513.

List of Cyberspace Topics (November 1995). P. 515.

Web Hosting Contract (Provider-oriented) (November 1995). P. 516.

Web Hosting Contract (Customer-oriented) (November 1995). P. 522.

Internet Usage Policy (example). P. 528.

Smiley Dictionary. P. 530.