Cyberlaw syllabus

Professor Ira Steven Nathenson

Cyberlaw, Summer 2017

Professor Ira Steven Nathenson

St. Thomas University School of Law

Phone: 305-474-2454
Course website:
Class time: Tue. & Thur. 6:45PM-9:15PM, room 215
Office hours: Summer office hours Tues. 3:30-5:30PM, Wed. 1:00-3:00PM, Thursday 3:30-5:30 p.m., and by appointment. Office hours start May 25 but I will be in town in May and am always available via email. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me via email.


This course qualifies for skills credits.

Cyberlaw examines the effect of the Internet on the law, and of the law on the internet. In one sense, Cyberlaw provides a petri dish to examine how technology interacts with and impacts the entire law. In a richer sense, Cyberlaw shows how intermediated network technologies can disrupt existing forms of power—laws, markets, and social norms—in unexpected ways, creating new centers of norms and power. In that sense, Cyberlaw is a study of how technology brings chaos as well as unexpected order. Whether the chaos and order is good will be a central and recurring question. Topics covered will vary depending on current developments in law and technology and one can expect the class to regularly confront ongoing events. Topics in any semester may include: online jurisdiction; cyber-speech; trolling and bullying; privacy and anonymity; defamation; online intellectual property disputes; service provider liability; social networks; cybersecurity, cyberwar, and cybercrime; and network neutrality. This course may be used towards the St. Thomas Law Intellectual Property certificate (IPL @ STU) program. It also provides skills credits.


The casebook and course materials are all available on the internet.

  1. Course Website: Site at This website is your source for assignments, project information, and other materials. Details on the course website are provided below.
  2. Casebook: James Grimmelmann, Internet Law: Cases and Problems (6th ed. Semaphore Press), available at The book can be downloaded as an unprotected PDF, which allows you to mark up and annotate the book. Keep in mind, however, that laptops are not normally permitted in class, so be sure to print out your assignments and bring them with you. Regarding the value and cost, Professor Grimmelmann and his publisher allow you to name your price, with a suggested price of $30. That’s a great price compared to $250 casebooks. If you’re strapped for cash, they allow you to “freeride” and download the book for free. However, this is a fantastic casebook and a steal for only $30, so unless you are truly strapped, I recommend you pay for the book. And no, I will not ask you if you paid. Honor system!


Assignments and course-related materials will be posted to the course website at  In addition, selected course-related announcements and materials may be sent to your official St. Thomas Law email account.


As a skills course, your grade will be based on two experiential projects (each 1/3 of grade) and class participation (the reamaining 1/3).  For class participation, your score will look at a number of factors, including: regularity and quality of preparation; contributions as a discussion leader; contributions as a discussant; class attendance; and punctuality, i.e., being in class, in your seat, on time, and ready to start. There is no curve and there is no final examination.


Class attendance.

“Regular class attendance” means, among other things, that you are in your seat and ready to start work on time. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for you to be in your seat and ready to start on time. Because we will be doing practice-oriented projects, class will often begin with important announcements and project guidance. If you are late, you will miss out on that information. Along similar lines, do not exit the classroom without good cause. If you leave class early without permission, you may be counted absent and may be denied reentry. All of these considerations may be factored into your class participation score.

Participation as a class discussant (class member).

Every class member should be fully prepared to discuss the materials assigned for each class even if they are not a discussion leader. Class members should work during class with the professor and discussion leaders to discuss and explore the assigned materials. If you want, you can email me prior to class with supplemental materials you find that you think might be useful to share with the group. If we do not complete an assignment on one day, we will usually pick up on that assignment in the next class, so you should still be prepared to discuss those materials. Even when there is overlap, you should always prepare any new assigned materials as well. Your participation as a class member counts as part of your class participation score. See Guidance for Discussants, Discussion Leaders, and Panels.

Participation as a discussion leader.

For every class, there will be a discussion leader. Your participation as a discussion leader counts as part of your class participation score. See Guidance for Discussants and Discussion Panels.

Participation as a moderator or panelist.

Towards the end of the semester, class will be run as scholarly panels, like you would see at an academic conference. One student will serve as moderator, and the others will be panelists. See Guidance for Discussants and Discussion Panels.

Each discussion leader should:

  • Present assigned materials, including statutes cited within the readings.
  • Lead group discussion.
  • Prepare and present discussion questions based on the assigned materials.
  • Call on members of the group to pose questions and to help answer questions.
  • As appropriate, bring in additional materials for the group. (Email me such materials ahead of time so that we can project them on screen.)

Further information about discussion leaders:

  • Discussion leaders will be assigned in advance. Names will be posted to the course website.
  • If a discussion leader is absent, late, or unprepared to present on an assigned day, their class participation score will be negatively impacted and they may be required to assume additional discussion leader duties later in the semester.

For details on moderators and panelists, see Guidance for Discussants and Discussion Panels.

Disclosure, Candor, and Attribution policy: i.e., non-plagiarism.

We will discuss matters regarding your individual projects in class, and you may discuss ideas and the law with your Cyberlaw classmates. However, any work product you hand in must be your own work. In limited circumstances, I will allow you to work from and adapt forms and other pre-existing materials. I will let you know in writing when you may use pre-existing materials. Except in the limited circumstance when I permit you to use pre-existing materials, any work product you hand in must be written and created solely by you. Any violation of this policy will be dealt with harshly and may in addition constitute a violation of the St. Thomas Law Honor Code. All students will be required to sign and return the Certification and Attribution form as part of submitting any project.


This is a skills course, but the real goal is to treat it as much more than a skills course. It is intended to be one that integrates your learning—this means learning and not teaching—of cyberlaw doctrine, theory, practice skills, and professional values. So instead of learning doctrine in one class, ethics in another class, and skills in yet another class, we will use them together to better learn Cyberlaw and to become a better lawyer.


Learning outcomes refers to skills, concepts, and other matters you will learn in our course. Learning methodologies are the techniques we will use to learn these matters. As a skills course with multiple projects, assessment is primarily formative, i.e., feedback that occurs while the topic is still being studied. This contrasts heavily with traditional doctrinal courses where assessment is primarily summative, i.e., feedback that occurs at the end of a course.

 Learning Outcomes (the goal)

Learning Methodologies (the means)
Internet law and theory: Topics in any particular semester will vary but may include: online jurisdiction; cyber-speech; trolling and bullying; privacy and anonymity; defamation; online intellectual property disputes; service provider liability; social networks; cybersecurity, cyberwar, and cybercrime; and network neutrality. Students will read, brief, mark-up, and discuss cyberlaw cases and statutes, and engage in discussion of the law and underlying theory and policy. Students will often lead discussion.


Integrating law and theory with practice skills and professional values: Developing basic practitioner proficiency in tasks common to cyberlaw lawyering and tying doctrine and professional values into practice.



The skills projects are designed to integrate the teaching of the four components of lawyering: doctrine, theory, practice skills and professional values.  For information on the MacCrate Report’s recommendation for integrated teaching of these components, see here.
Building practical and technical knowledge regarding internet architecture: Skills may include

  • Using tools such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and more to develop a professional attorney profile, along with learning how to leverage content, interact and network-build, and utilize analytics;
  • Enforcing client rights online, including direct enforcement, intermediary enforcement, documentation, negotiation, and building a case file
  • Learning basics of HTML, WordPress, domain name system, and more about internet technology (WHOIS, VPNs, IP addressing, etc.)
Skills projects with formative and summative components, as well as in-class activities.


Computers (including without limitation tablets and other electronic devices) may be brought to class but they cannot be used during normal discussion or for note-taking. The reason is that study after study has proven that electronics are anathema to engaged discussion, note-taking, and critical thinking. Considering that we have a small group, the success of the class will hinge on the engagement of each and every one of us. Accordingly, you may bring your devices to class but they may be used only at points that I designate are appropriate for computer use, such as when we are working together online learning how to do a Traceroute or WHOIS search.

With that in mind:

  • Print out casebook: You should always print out and mark up your assigned casebook materials and handouts as you will not have access to them during class.
  • Note-taking: You should take notes by hand.

Revised June 25, 2017 (as noted in class week of June 22, re change to two projects; adding info on moderators/panelists)