A Layered Approach to Internet Legal Analysis

By McTaggart, Craig | McGill Law Journal, December 2003 | Go to article overview

A Layered Approach to Internet Legal Analysis


McTaggart, Craig, McGill Law Journal


Introduction

I. A Layered Conceptual Model of Internet Architecture
   A. Monolithic vs. Layered Network Architectures
   B. Layers and Law
   C. A Four-Layer Conceptual Model of internet Architecture
      1. Physical Layer
         a. Equipment Sublayer
         b. Networks Sublayer
      2. Operational Layer
         a. Centralized Resources and Functions Sublayer
         b. Standards and Protocols Sublayer
         c . ISP Functions Sublayer
      3. Application
      4. Content Sublayer
         a. Content Sublayer
         b. Transactions Sublayer
II. A Layered Typology of Internet Legal and Policy Issues
    A. Content layer
       1. Content Sublayer
       2. Transactions Sublayer
       3. Example: Browse-Wrap Licenses
    B. Application Layer
       1. Example: Overlay Software
    C. Operational Layer
       1. Centralized Resources and Functions Sublayer
       2. Standards and Protocols Sublayer
       3. ISP Functions Sublayer
       4. Example : E-Mail Service
    D. Physical Layer
       1. Equipment Sublayer
       2. Networks Sublayer
       3. Example: IP Telephony

Conslusion
Glossary

The analysis of Internet legal and policy issues is aided by an understanding of the Internet's unique, layered architecture. This article proposes a conceptual model of the Internet that reflects its layered architecture. The model is offered to decision-makers, policy-makers, and legal analysts, not only as a roadmap or guide to understanding the Internet, but also as a tool for identifying Internet legal issues with the appropriate degree of granularity. Precise identification enables state and legal actors to assess the impact of policy choices in a comprehensive manner by allowing them to consider the implications of those policy choices for the Internet's various elements.

Following an introduction to the Internet's four conceptual layers along with its sublayers and elements, the author offers a typology of representative legal and policy issues for each layer. A number of issues are surveyed with regards to each sublayer. The specific examples of browse-wrap licenses, overlay software, e-mail service, and Internet protocol telephony are discussed in detail in order to illustrate the characteristic features and concerns of each layer of the Internet.

La comprehension de l'architecture unique de l'Internet favorise l'analyse de ses enjeux juridiques et politiques. Cet article propose un modele conceptuel de l'Internet qui reflete son architecture sous forme de <>. Ce modele s'offre aux decideurs politiques et analystes juridiques non seulement a titre de guide leur permettant de comprendre l'Internet, mais egalemant a titre d'outil pour identifier de maniere appropriee et precise les enjeux juridiques qui y sont relies. Une telle identification permet aux acteurs juridiques et etatiques d'evaluer de maniere complete et detaillee l'impact des choix de certaines politiques et de considerer les tmplications de ces choix pour les differents elements de l'Internet.

Suite a une introduction aux quatre <> et de 1'internet, de meme qu'a ses <> et autres elements, l'auteur nous offre une typologie des enjeux juridiques et polinques associes a chacune de ces <> et <>>. Les exemples des <>, des <>, des services de courriels et de la telephonie IP sont discutes en details afin d'illustrer les principales caractrristiques et questions que souleve chacune de ces <>.

Introduction

The analysis of Internet legal and policy issues is aided by an understanding of the Internet's unique layered architecture. Instead of being viewed as a monolithic whole, the Internet can be thought of as being composed of four different conceptual layers; from the top down these are: the content, application, operational, and physical layers. …

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