Professor Gregory Silverman Publishes a New Book
September 20, 2002
We are proud to announce the publication of INTERNET COMMERCE, THE EMERGING LEGAL FRAMEWORK, by Seattle University Assistant Professor of Law Gregory M. Silverman, together with Margaret Radin of Stanford University and John Rothchild of Wayne State University. INTERNET COMMERCE, THE EMERGING LEGAL FRAMEWORK is the first casebook published by the premiere legal publisher Foundation Press on the law of online commerce. It provides both students and practitioners with a comprehensive framework for understanding the myriad legal developments occasioned by the rise of commerce on the Internet.
Given the substantial and expanding role that the Internet plays in everyday commercial activities, any lawyer who advises businesses or litigates
on their behalf must be conversant with the new legal issues that arise from commercial use of online communications. The goal of this book is to supply thatknowledge. Professor Silverman and his co-authors reject the premise that use of the Internet transports one to a new and mysterious place called "cyberspace" in which all the old rules must be jettisoned.But neither has commercial use of the Internet left the legal landscape unmodified. The lawyer's task is to understand what courts and legislatures can adapt (and are adapting) from inherited legal regimes, and what they must forge (and are forging) anew.
Chapter 1 of INTERNET COMMERCE introduces the reader to the options for regulating the Internet so that it can support commercial transactions. In Chapters 2 and 3, the reader learns about the central role of trademark law in enabling companies to establish an online identity, and the law governing domain names, an important business asset that did not exist before the Internet. Chapters 4 and 5 of INTERNET COMMERCE focus upon contracts, the basis of exchange in the online world as in the offline world. In these chapters, the reader studies some significant legislative initiatives and how they treat basic contractual features such as consent, as well as the impact of the online environment on signatures and the statute of frauds.
Chapter 6 of INTERNET COMMERCE surveys the range of consumer protection issues brought to the fore in the online environment. Chapter 7 takes up the difficult issue of jurisdiction in the borderless environment; businesses do not want to be open to suit in every jurisdiction where their Web sites may be seen (that is, everywhere in the world), but what are reasonable limits? Chapter 8 is devoted to an issue of special concern to many consumers, protection of information privacy. Online businesses need data about their customers and must find ways to work within parameters that consumers can accept.
Property in information is central to online businesses in a number of different ways, and Chapters 9 through 12 of INTERNET COMMERCE explore how these property rights function. Chapter 9 addresses copyright law, Chapter 10 the law governing databases, Chapter 11 the role of technological protection of digital goods, and Chapter 12 the patent system's protection of methods of doing business.
In Chapter 13 of INTERNET COMMERCE, the reader studies approaches to liability for online intrusions, including unwanted commercial e-mail ("spam"), while Chapter 14 introduces the topic of immunity from secondary liability for harmful or offending online conduct by users-a matter of particular concern to Internet service providers and hosting providers. Chapter 15 addresses forms of alternative dispute resolution that may be used in Internet commerce.
Central to any commercial transaction is payment for goods and services; accordingly, Chapter 16 of INTERNET COMMERCE provides an overview of methods of paying for purchases in Internet commerce, from credit cards and debit cards to "smart cards" and newer digital payment mechanisms. Tax revenues are what enable governments to carry out their functions, and the question of taxation is still unresolved in the online environment; Chapter 17 explores some important features of this issue.
INTERNET COMMERCE, THE EMERGING LEGAL FRAMEWORK is designed to be user-friendly. The material and discussions assume familiarity with the first-year legal courses, but legal expertise beyond that is not presumed. Because understanding the legal issues frequently depends on understanding the technology underlying Internet communications, INTERNET COMMERCE includes a glossary for help with technical terms that may be unfamiliar. In addition, Appendix A, on computer networking, and Appendix B, on the domain name system, will be helpful to those seeking further background on the technology of the Internet. Appendix C offers an overview and classification of the various Internet business models. For those who want to pursue further reading, a bibliography for each chapter's topics is provided. A companion Web site to the casebook is also under construction at www.ecommercecasebook.com, where the authors hope to keep everyone posted on the changing world of e-commerce and create an online community for the book's users.
INTERNET COMMERCE, THE EMERGING LEGAL FRAMEWORK is a new book in a new field, and we congratulate Professor Silverman and his co-authors on their major contribution to this developing area of law.