Cyberclaw: Cases and Materials on the Internet, Digital Intellectual Property and Electronic Commerce

Article excerpt

* Cyberlaw: Cases and Materials on the Internet, Digital Intellectual Property and Electronic Commerce. Brian Fitzgerald and Anne Fitzgerald. Chatswood, Australia: LexisNexis Butterworths, 2002. 793 pp. AUS $143 pbk.

It is still debatable whether cyberlaw is so distinctive from other kinds of law that it warrants its own specialty. Nonetheless, cyberlaw is among the hottest new specialties at American law and mass communication schools. Several cyberlaw texts such as Law of Internet Speech by Madeleine Schachter (2d ed. 2002) have been published in the United States during the past four years to meet the explosive teaching and research demands in the booming field of Internet law.

Few American Internet law books, however, delve into the international and comparative dimensions of law and regulations in cyber communication. To those who are familiar with U.S.-centric communication law generally, it is no surprise. Non-U.S. law books are often an important resource to place cyberlaw's accelerated globalization in context.

Cyberlaw: Cases and Materials on the Internet, Digital Intellectual Property and Electronic Commerce is a case in point. The book is an ambitious, laudable effort by two Australian Internet law experts to address key cyberlaw issues from an international and comparative perspective. Law Professor Brian Fitzgerald of the Queensland University of Technology and attorney Anne Fitzgerald state that their book has evolved from the materials they have developed in teaching cyberlaw courses in Australia and the United States since 1996.

Cyberlaw starts with an introduction of the structure, governance, and regulation of Cyberspace. Among the topics covered in Part I of the book are jurisdiction in Cyberspace and content regulation. Parts II and III focus on digital intellectual property (copyrights, patents, and trade marks in database) and electronic commerce (electronic contracts, privacy, cybercrime, and digital entertainment), respectively.

Cyberlaw offers the authors' perspective on the topics examined in the book, but the authors' comments are rather limited. They are often confined to brief introductions to, or updating of, the materials for readers. The bulk of the book is a edited compilation of court opinions and statutes of Australia, England, France, and the United States; of documents from several international organizations; and of scholarly or nonscholarly articles. Included in the book are John Perry Barlow's 1996 "Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace" and the English translations of the French court rulings in the Yahoo! Case.

They could have been more balanced in selecting scholarly materials for inclusion or exclusion. For example, David Johnson and David Post's "Law and Borders: The Rise of Law in Cyberspace" (1996) is excerpted in the book, but Jack L. …