See the calendar on the right for the full schedule.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Law School Winter Course

The message below was sent to me by Peter Shane. Some of you may be interested in this course...

As promised, I am writing in the hope that you might be able to publicize to your students my winter quarter (for them) course in The Internet, Democracy, and the Law. The course description appears below. Many thanks, Peter

Professor Peter Shane

Since the advent of the Internet, hopes have loomed large for its potential role in invigorating the quality of democratic life in both developing and post-industrial countries. This course will analyze the ways in which the production, consumption, and legal regulation of Internet speech and digital technologies shape the Internet's political impact on democracy, with special, but not exclusive reference to the experience of the United States.

The course will begin with an introduction to the Internet as a technological and political phenomenon, plus a brief survey of democratic theory. We will then consider the Internet as an information medium, as we might consider newspapers or broadcast journalism. A third section of the course will look at the Internet as a vehicle for governance and political action.

Our readings will introduce the idea of "e-democracy," and the challenges posed for e-democracy by issues of access, inclusion, and the digital divide. We will then consider the uses of the Internet for mobilizing interest groups, conducting electoral campaigns, as well as the phenomenon of "e-government." Following this survey, we will consider how law treats the Internet in its capacity as a "public square"or general forum for free speech. Specific topics will include fighting words, national security limits on speech, the regulation of obscenity, and defamation. We will then discuss the legal regulation of digital technologies as its affects their democratic prospects. Of particular concern will be debates over treating internet service providers as common carriers, mandating "net neutrality," promoting broadband deployment, and regulating technologies for sharing information. We will take a brief look at copyright issues and their potential impact on democracy, and then survey political and legal perspectives on data mining, data protection and freedom of information.

In order to accommodate potential enrollment by graduate students from other departments, the course is offered during the College of Law spring semester, but compressed into thirty 70-minute sessions taught over the ten-week winter quarter. Grading will be based 70 per cent on an all-essay take-home final examination, 20 per cent on student contributions to an online discussion forum, and 10 per cent on class participation. Because the College of Law spring semester begins one week later than Winter Quarter, 2009, graduate students from other departments will start this course during the second week of the quarter, and will be responsible only for the material in Classes 1-27. They will be welcome to attend the last three classes, which focus on the law of privacy, but attendance will be optional and the exam for non-law students will not cover this material. Law students and non-law students will be graded on separate curves.

Our primary texts will be Andrew Chadwick, Internet Politics: States, Citizens and New Communication Technologies (Oxford University Press, 2006), and Madeleine Schachter and Joel Kurtzberg, Law of Internet Speech (Carolina Academic Press, 3d ed., 2008).

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