My Cyberlaw Class in the Spring

It’s that time of year when the Registrar asks the professors for descriptions of their Spring classes, along with the book orders.

I’ve decided to teach cyberlaw this year similarly to how I taught it a few years back: more like a seminar. Rather than a grade based on an exam, I’ll assign a brief reaction paper and take classroom participation into account. Rather than a casebook of edited decisions, there will be several readable paperback books by leading law scholars and some full cases. Rather than lecture, discussion. And rather than emphasizing black letter law–which I don’t think is the best way to train exceptional lawyers–we will discuss policy arguments, legal theory, institutional arrangements, legal argumentation, etc.

Last time I taught the class this way, several students told me how much they loved it and how much they learned. Another said, “I feel like I didn’t learn any law. Only theory and debating.” She liked it less. (And she was wrong. I pulled down a cyberlaw casebook and showed her how we covered every topic in the book and knew the legal rules in every domain; we just challenged ourselves in other ways.)

So here are the books. All already classics. All are readable, I think, even for nonexperts. All are fun to read. Some I even largely agree with.

  1. Cass Sunstein, Republic.com 2.0 (I really wanted to assign the first version, which proposes more aggressive, if foolish, arguments. It sparks better classroom discussion. Sunstein is, of course, the most cited legal scholar alive.)
  2. Lawrence Lessig, Code 2.0 (This is a classic, full of brilliant, novel insights and frameworks. Lessig is a well-known constitutional law and cyberlaw pioneer, and the foundation of his reputation is this book.)
  3. Lawrence Lessig, The Future of Ideas (The book that got me interested in this field.)
  4. Jack Goldsmith & Tim Wu, Who Controls the Internet? (This writing team consists of a brilliant Harvard Law professor, who formerly headed the Office of Legal Counsel, and Columbia Law School’s Tim Wu, who invented the term net neutrality and is generally brilliant, novel, and a great writer.)
  5. Tim Wu, The Master Switch (Reading this book now, which is soon to be released. It’s like catnip for people like me. Brilliant book, beautifully written, and also a fun read.)
  6. Daniel Solove, The Digital Person (A great book about digital privacy.)
  7. Jack Balkin (ed.), Cybercrime (A great collection of articles about cybercrime and policy reactions to it.)
  8. Jessica Litman, Digital Copyright (A classic book about digital copyright and the legislative history behind digital copyright law.)

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