University of New South Wales Faculty of Law - Session 1, 2003
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY LAW: Internet governance (LAWS 9977)

Subject Outline, Objectives & Assessment

1. Focus and objectives

How do the law and other forces determine the structure or constitution of 'cyberspace' (of which the Internet is the largest and best-known component), both locally and internationally? How is cyberspace governed?

Cyberspace gives rise to the most distinctive and interesting problems of information technology law, as it is the most pervasive conjunction of computing and telecommunications technologies. The Internet is the focus through which this course studies information technology law.

 The topics in the course cover the most pervasive and general forms of regulation that can affect most types of transactions, publications and other interactions in cyberspace. The general notions of 'Internet governance' and the 'constitution of cyberspace" are developed through a focus on issues such as the following:

This course is intended to be studied before or in conjunction with other information technology law subjects, and to provide valuable background to many of them. In particular, this course is not concerned (except incidentally) with the information content of cyberspace, which is studied in a separate course on Internet content regulation (LAWS 3040) and in other IP-related courses. Nor is there any systematic study of privacy law, which is covered in a separate course (LAWS 3037).

 The legal content of the course is based on the law of Australia (particularly New South Wales), considered in its international context. The law of other jurisdictions is used to explore potential developments in Australian law. The international nature of cyberspace also requires consistent attention to both the effectiveness of purely domestic laws, and to the development of international standards and the extent to which Australian law adheres to those international standards. The development of private international law methods of resolving cyberspace law conflicts with multi-jurisdictional elements is also covered.

1.1. Objectives of the subject

The objectives of teaching and studying this subject are:

1.2. Pre-requisites

Prior computing experience or knowledge is not required for this subject, except that students will have to acquire the necessary skills to use the subject's internet resources - ie use of e-mail and use of the world-wide-web.

1.3. Topics and schedule

The specific topics to be covered may vary from year to year. This year the topics will be: See the Timetable on the course website <>for the topics which will be covered this year, the weekly schedule and the Reading Guides and casebook readings for each week.

2. Teaching approach

This subject is being taught by a weekly seminar supplemented by `internet delivery', in the forms of hypertext Reading Guides for each topic, and an email discussion list limited to members of the class.

 The principal study resources for the subject will be the hypertext Reading Guides, and the documents on the world-wide-web linked from them which constitute the required and recommended reading. These web resources will be supplemented by print resources if and where necessary (which will not be very often, from past experience). There is no compulsory textbook, but students are recommended to purchase one of two suggested casebooks.

The weekly seminars will be based around assigned reading in the Reading Guides for each topic, which will assist students to work their way through both the www resources and the print resources for each topic, in a structured way. The Reading Guides will indicate which readings are compulsory, and which are supplementary.

 An important mechanism for class interaction will be the e-mail list. A few students will be assigned to start discussions on assigned Discussion Questions each week. All students will be expected to participate to some extent in the e-mail discussion each week. I will publish the list of `discussion starter' questions, and the names of the students who are to commence discussion on these questions via the class e-mail list, and the students who are to respond initially to the `discussion starters' (see details under `Assessment' below). As the subject teacher I will participate in the e-mail discussion list, equivalent to a teacher's role in face-to-face class discussions.

3. Internet and print resources for the subject

3.1. Obtain your e-mail and internet account(s) (if necessary)

All students in this subject require an e-mail account, and access to the World-Wide-Web. The most useful thing you can do before teaching starts is to make sure you have the e-mail and internet accounts you need.

3.2. Internet resources

The subject's internet resources are accessible at <> (the 'itlaw home page').

Reading Guides

Wherever possible, the readings for the subject will be made available via the world-wide-web. If they are so available, they will not be reproduced in print form. It will be up to students to decide which, if any, internet resources they need to print out for their own use (subject to copyright restrictions, of course).

Class email list

Information on how to subscribe to the class email list (if you have not been subscribed automatically) are available on the itlaw home page. A Hypermail version of the class list is also available from the itlaw home page, but access will be limited to class members by a password.

Other research resources

There are other resources from the itlaw home page which will assist you in class preparation, and in preparing your research essay.

3.3 Textbooks

The following casebooks are recommended to supplement the web-based Reading Guides, but are not compulsory: Fitzgerald is a much more substantial book than Lim, and is preferable.

 Two useful textbooks are:

Books and articles in print will also be recommended in the Reading Guides for each topic in the subject.

 Details of books and journals on the topic in the Law Library are available from the subject home page (and some will be placed at the Law Library Reserve Desk).

4. Assessment (proposed)

Assessment on the basis of the following components is proposed, subject to discussion in the first Seminar class. Assessment of written work will be anonymous insofar as is consistent with the course objectives. The Essay and Assignment must be submitted with a required cover sheet (which will be provided with the topics). Deadlines for submitted work are provided in the Timetable or will be advised via the class email list.

4.1. Research Essay (40%) - Maximum length is 3,000 words

Students may choose a research essay topic from a list of possible topics that will be posted on the class web pages. Any student who wishes to write on one of these topics will need no further approval from me. Any student who wishes to propose another topic (or a significant variation on one of the suggested topics) must obtain my approval (confirmed by an exchange of e-mail) of the proposed alternative topic.

 The maximum word length for the research essay is 3,000 words, excluding citations and bibliography, but including any discursive footnotes. This is a strict word limit - penalties will apply to any essays that exceed the word limit, and such text as is well over the word limit will not be read. An important part of the skill of legal writing is to be concise. The minimum recommended word length is 500 words less than the maximum.

 The due date for the Research Essay will be set after class discussion. Essays must be handed in, in print form. Essays may not be submitted as e-mail attachments. If a student wishes to provide a copy of the essay in hypertext form on the world-wide-web, so as to assist me to link to URLs in footnotes and bibliography if I wish to check any of them, then the URL where the essay is located may be indicated on the front page of the essay. The print copy is the copy which will be assessed, and the hypertext version (if any) may or may not be referred to. (This is not a course on course on creating web resources, so no extra credit can be or is given for attractive or inventive web presentations. Do not waste time doing this.)

4.2. Take-Home Assignment (50%) - Maximum length is 3,000 words.

The end-of-session assessment will consist of three questions (which may be problems or essays), which will involve legal and policy issues ranging over the whole subject, and the inter-relationships between them. There may or may not be a choice of questions. The Take-Home will therefore require you to have covered most or all of the topics in the course in order to answer it successfully.

 The maximum word length for the Take-Home Problem is 3,000 words, excluding citations and bibliography, but including any discursive footnotes. This is a strict word limit - in the same sense as used for the Research Essay.

 The Take-Home will be available at the end of the course, and you will have approximately two weeks in which to complete it. The same rules apply for the form of submission of the Take-Home Problem as apply to submission of the Research Essay.

4.3. Class participation (10% ) - E-mail & class discussion required

Class participation by contribution to both the discussion in the weekly Seminars, and via e-mail discussions on the class list is compulsory and assessable. A satisfactory mark may be obtained on the basis on a student's contributions toward the compulsory email Discussion Questions. However, a student's contributions to in-class discussions and to other online discussion will be taken into account in the overall class participation mark.

 For assessment purposes, the key requirements for satisfactory `class participation' in the compulsory email component are the following items:

An assessment will be made of each student's overall participation at the end of the subject, from the logs of email during the subject. The Hypermail program allows all mail sent to the list during a session to be sorted by author, which is principally how I will identify each student's email class participation at the end of session.

It is therefore important that you always send mail to the list from only one e-mail address, so that it is easy to identify as having come from you. If this is impossible, include your name in the heading of the message.

4.4. Other assessment information

Citation and other issues of academic standards

The essay and the take-home end-of-session assessment must be documented according to normal academic standards, even though many (often most) of the resources you are likely to cite are found on the world-wide-web. The full URL must be given for all world-wide-web resources cited (including the Reading Guides).

Relationship between objectives and assessment

The objective of requiring a reasonably comprehensive coverage of existing law, and assessing problem-solving skills, is satisfied by the Take Home problems, whereas the Research Essay allows students to specialise in a topic in which they are particularly interested, and to research, analyse and argue policy questions. Class Participation assessment allows for continuing assessment of analytic skills and course coverage.

5. Other information

5.1. Prize

No prize is offered at present.

5.2. Relationship to other subjects

This subject is primarily on `the law as it applies to computers and networks', rather than `computer applications to law', which is the emphasis of the subject LAWS 3035 Developing Computer Applications to Law'. The subjects are complementary. This course is not concerned (except incidentally) with the information content of cyberspace, which is studied in a separate course LAWS 3040 Internet Content.

5.3 Contact information

Graham Greenleaf
Professor of Law, UNSW
 Room: 991F (Level 9, Library Tower)
 Phone: 9385 2233 (UNSW)
             9569 5310 (Home)
Fax: 9385 1175 (UNSW)
Email: or

12 February 2003