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Below is a list of sample syllabi for Internet law courses, designed to suggest possible courses of study. The problem is that there is so much good stuff to consider. There is a wealth of informative literature and history to review. It all depends upon what you want to study - how a course should be modeled. A course on Internet Governance would be significantly different from a course on the Internet in Communications Policy. Each subject area can be unraveled into a whole course of study (and even then just barely scraped the surface of the subject matter).

This is an expanding process that will scale. The first part of the process (which I am currently in) is to brain storm. Next, I will focus on individual syllabi - developing into mature products. And of course, as with everything in this area, most of this will be out of date before I have finished.


Model Outlines

Communications Law

Common Carriage

  • Origins of Common Carriage
  • Carrier of third party goods
  • Economic Power; Significant Market Power
  • Public Interest objectives (disabilities, public safety, law enforcement)
  • Benjamin Franklin and the Postal Service
  • Recurring Themes
    • Content of choice (AP and Western Union)
    • Destination of Choice (Strowger Switch)
    • Device of choice (Hush a Phone; Carterphone)
  • Industrial Policy

Question What is the difference between the objectives of a policy and the way in which a policy is implemented?


  • Government Funded Telegraph
  • First Transatlantic Cables
  • Civil War
  • Western Union and AP, and the Progressive Era


  • Invention / Patent Era
    • Voice Telegraph
    • Patent wars
  • Competition Era
  • Monopoly Era
    • Interconnection, Access to Credit, Western Electric and access to equipment
    • Regulatory Oversight
      • Common Carrier agreements
      • Antitrust I: Kingsbury Agreement
        • Interconnection as tool for barrier to entry
      • Question At the turn of the century, AT&T President Theodore Vail evangelized that competition resulted in the duplication of investment and was inefficient. "Two exchange systems in the same community, each serving the same members, cannot be conceived of as a permancy, nor can the service in either be furnished at any material reduction because of competition, if return on investment and proper maintenance be taken into account. Duplication of plant is a waste to the investor. Duplication of charges is a waste to the user." Theodore Vail, 1907. AT&T was repeating this mantra into the 1970s when MCI challenged to enter its market. Was AT&T right or partially right? Was AT&T wrong or partially wrong? Should the telecommunications market been opened to competition at the turn of the 20th Century? Was the USG effort in 1996 to introduce competition into the market place futile?

      • Interstate Commerce Commission
      • Federal Communications Commission
    • Universal Service
    • Stowger Switch
    • WWI - Nationalization
    • Labor / Unions
    • Price regulation
  • Question Do communications networks always evolve towards monopoly or significant market power? Is there a way of maintaining competition in the telecommunications market or does the network market always tend towards a "natural monopoly"?

    Model Class Units

    Introduction to Telecom Law and Common Carriage
    Telephone Policy Part I: Invention through Divestiture
    Telephone Policy Part II: Telecom Act through PSTN Transition

    The Internet in Communications Policy Part I: The Computer Inquiries

    Internet in Communications Policy Part II: VoIP

    Internet in Communications Policy Part III: Broadband Internet

    • Powell Doctrine / Open Access
    • Network Neutrality

    Interconnection Part I: From Railroads to AT&T

    Interconnection Part II: The Evolution of Internet Interconnection
    Administrative Procedure Law
  • Reintroduction of Competition
    • CPE: Hush-a-phone; Carterfone
      • Interconnection as tool for barrier to entry
    • Antitrust II:
    • Western Union
    • Information Service
    • Long Distance/ MCI
      • Interconnection as tool for barrier to entry
  • Telecommunications Liberalization
    • Antitrust III: Divestiture
    • Access Charges
      • Interconnection as extracting rent
    • Telecommunications Act of 1996 :: Competition or Consolidation
      • Policy achieved through competition
      • Codification of Computer Inquiries, not quite

      Question Questions

      • Did the Telecommunications Act of 1996 fail?
      • Did the Telecommunications Act of 1996 anticipate the commercial Internet?
  • PSTN Transition

    Question Is telecommunications regulation effective? If so, what does telecommunications regulation achieve? Why is telecommunications regulation still necessary in the age of the Internet? If telecommunications regulation is not effective, was it ever effective? What policy objectives did telecommunications regulation achieve that, in your opinion, it no longer achieves?

Reading John Brooks, Telephone: The First Hundred Years (Harper & Row 1975)

Internet in Communications Policy Leaving CT

Broadband Plan

Question What did the broadband plan achieve? Is the broadband plan guiding current USG broadband policy? What percentage of Broadband Plan recommendations have been implemented?

Social Policy Objectives


  • Marconi
    • Early Radio. Department of the Navy
    • The Titanic
  • Federal Radio Commission
    • Policy: Interference; Scarecity
  • Federal Communications Commission
    • License Assignment
    • Beauty Pagents
    • Auctions
  • Unlicensed

Reading Michael Marcus, WiFi and Bluetooth: The Path from Carter and Reagan era Faith in Deregulation to Widespread Products Impacting Our World, PPT, Unleashing Unlicensed: How WiFi Got Its Regulatory Grove, An IEP Conference at GMU (April 4, 2008)

Question Unlicensed spectrum appears to fall prey to the tragedy of the commons. Is unlicensed spectrum an efficient communications policy and if not, how could spectrum be better allocated?

  • Mobile
    • Policy achieved through competition

Media Leaving CT

Administrative Law

  • Interstate Commerce Commission
    • Common Carriage
  • The Communications Act of 1934
    • "Indendent Agency"
    • Congressional Oversight
    • Commission Structure
  • The Telecommunications Act of 1996
  • Administrative Procedures Act

    Reading Reading

    Question Questions

    • Imagine Congress wanted to eliminate Chevron agency deference, preventing agencies from promulgating policies that appear inconsistent with Congressional will. How could Congress achieve this? What would be the drawbacks or consequences? Would the courts, who could no longer rely on agency expertise, become defacto regulatory agencies, duplicating regulatory proceedings to evaluate results? What lessons can be drawn from Judge Greene's antitrust proceeding breaking up Ma Bell?
    • Can a regulatory agency change its mind? If so, how is a regulatory agency able to change its mind?
    • Who gets to participate in the following decision making processes and how much influence do they have: judicial decisions, legislative decisions, agency decisions?
    • Arbitrary and Capricious
  • Jurisdiction; Ancillary Jurisdiction
  • Merger Review and Antitrust

Question Questions

  • On what grounds can an aggreived party challenge an FCC promulgation of a new rule?
  • An aggreived party believes that ISPs should not be forced to implement the requirements of CALEA. In what forum should the aggreived party petition the decision makers?
  • An aggreived party objects to statements and submissions to the record in an administrative proceedure. The aggreived party believes that the submission is unsubstantiated and hearsay. How can the aggreived party object to the submission to the record
  • The Recurring Cycle

Reading Tim Wu, Master Switch

  • EH on Internet and Radio

Reading Reading

  • Innovator's Dilemma
  • Jerry Kang, Communications Law and Policy (4th Ed. 2012) [Delnero] [AU Law]
  • Jonathan E. Neuchterlein and Philip J. Weiser, Digital Crossroads: American Communications Policy in the Internet Age (2nd Ed. 2013) [Delnero]
  • Siegel, Paul.Communication Law in America, 4thEd. (Lanham, MD: Rowman &Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2014).
  • Telecommunications Law and Policy (Third Edition 2012), by Stuart M. Benjamin, Douglas G. Lichtman, Howard A. Shelanski and Philip J. Weiser [Fomali]

Example Syllabi


The Internet in Communications Policy

Internet History Leaving CT

Computer Inquiries

  • Jurisdiction
  • Internet over the telephone network

    Reading Reading

    Question What problem structurally did the FCC have with the enforceability of its Computer Inquiry rules?

    Question How could the beneficiaries of the Computer Inquiries, small, innovative, market entering firms, seek enforcement of the rules? How would the enhance service providers overcome the burden that the information necessary for enforcement was in the hands of the telecommunications companies?


AOL / TW Merger and the Instant Messaging conditions

Open Access

  • Powell Doctrine
    • Forebearance of Common Carriage status and unintended consequences, Prof. Barbara Cherry
  • Brandx
    • Computer II argument
  • Reading National Cable & Telecommunications Ass’n v. Brand X Internet Services, 545 U.S. 967 (2005)

  • Jurisdiction

Network Neutrality

  • Broadband Principles
    • Jurisdiction (Ancillary Jurisdiction must be ancillary to something)
  • Open Internet  2010

Reading Verizon v. FCC, DC Cir. Jan. 14, 2014

  • Open Internet 2015
    • Jurisdiction

    Reading John Oliver, Net Neutrality: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) YouTube 2014

    Question Questions

    • Is the commercial Internet a telecommunications service?
    • How does Internet network economics differ from previous telecommunications service economics?
    • Do Internet access service providers have significant market power? Over whom?
    • Is there a problem of discriminatory behavior on the part of Internet access service providers? How is this problem the same as or different that previous discriminatory behavior problems experience with telecommunications services?
    • If network neutrality rules are removed, what will the Internet look like in five years?

Internet Interconnection Leaving CT


  • Innovation and Disruption
    • ACTA Petition
  • Competitive Pressure
    • Stevens Report :: Impact of VoIP on Universal Service
    • Industrial Policy:
      • "Regulatory holiday"
      • Arbitrage
      • Functional Approach - or why do we regulate??
    • Free World Dial Up
  • Question Its 2003. A VoIP phone like those provided by Vonage looks like and functions like a regular PSTN phone (mostly). How should a VoIP phone like Vonage, which operates using the North American Number Plan, fall within regulatory policy? Why?

  • PSTN Transition
    • Vonage and 911
    • interconnected VoIP
    • CVAA
    • Hurricane Katrina
    • PSTN Transition

Other Topics


Interconnection introduction




  • Dual Service Era, Kingsbury Accord, and Universal Service
  • Reading Milton Mueller, Universal Service : Competition, Interconnection and Monopoly in the Making of the American Telephone System (MIT Press 1997)

    Question Consistent with the design of AT&T Pres. Theodore Vail, at the turn of the century AT&T became the government sanctioned monopoly, precluding competition from the market place. Government policy at that time established the policy framework for regulation of Ma Bell as a monopoly for the next 100 years. At this nascent point, was there an alternative policy approach that could have promoted competition? Could the era of Dual Service been established as the policy model, with competitive network offerings?

  • Carterphone and Hushaphone
  • MCI
  • Divestiture and Access Charges
  • Mobile Phone Service
  • PSTN Transition

Interconnection and Backbones

Readings in Internet Policy


  • Where Wizards Stayed up Late
  • NSFNET Report, MERIT
  • Is there such a thing as "cyberlaw"?
  • David Clark, End to End (as design principle)
  • Cyberlaw and the Law of the Horse
  • The Victorian Internet
  • Barry M. Leiner, Vinton G. Cerf, David D. Clark, Robert E. Kahn, Leonard Kleinrock, Daniel C. Lynch, Jon Postel, Larry G. Roberts and  Stephen Wolff, A Brief History of the Internet, Internet Society; available at:

Cyberlibertarian 1990s

  • Prof. David D. Clark, A Cloudy Crystal Ball -- Visions of the Future, p. 551, 24th IETF, July 16, 1992 (presentation given at the 24th Internet Engineering Task Force) (slide presentation, in which Prof. Clark stated what became the motto of the IETF: "We reject: kings, presidents and voting. We believe in: rough consensus and running code." See also The Tao of the IETF
  • John Perry Barlow, A Declaration of Independence for Cyberspace
  • Johnson, David R. and Post, David G., Law and Borders - The Rise of Law in Cyberspace. Stanford Law Review, Vol. 48, p. 1367, 1996.
  • David Isenberg, “Rise of the Stupid Network” (1997)
  • Communications Decency Act
  • Sec. 230, Good Samaritan
  • Federal Communications Commission 1990s
  • Computer Inquiries
  • Steven's Report
  • Digital Tornado
  • Digital Handshake
  • Internet Governance
  • White Paper
  • Milton Mueller, Ruling the Root

Cyberprogressives 2000s

Cyber Realism

  • The Internet becomes the norm
  • Born Digital
  • Cybersecurity
  • Surveillance
  • Timothy Wu, The Master Switch
  • 2016 Election

Internet History: Hippies & Soldiers: Origins of the Internet


    • Sputnik
    • Paul Baran, RAND
      • AT&T rejects packet switching


    • History:
      • Licklider,
      • Robert Taylor, Larry Roberts
      • Vint Cerf, Steve Crocker, Jon Postel
      • AT&T rejects the ARPANet
      • ARPANet becomes the Internet
      • Telenet
    • Design
      • End to End
        • David Isenberg, “Rise of the Stupid Network” (1997)
        • The trust network and unintended consequenses
      • Layered Model
      • Permissionless Innovation
        • Sir Tim Berners-Lee and the open World Wide Web
        • The laboratory of innovation: The Garage
        • Open Internet
    • Telephone for computers


    • Motivation of companies to learn packet switching
    • AUP
      • MCI Email
      • CIX
    • Privitization
    • Al Gore

Reading NSFNET Final Report 1987-1995

Public Internet

Reading Reading


Federal Internet Law

Internet governance

Reading Reading

Example Syllabi



  • Crimes over the network
  • Crimes to the network


  • Access to information; access to systems
  • Unauthorized access
    • Criminalization of Terms of Service
    • Lori Drew
  • Hacking
  • Wifi Networks
    • Open Wifi Networks
    • Google Spyfi
  • Theft of service
    • Phone Phreaks
  • Improving security
    • Threat vectors
  • Law:
    • Cliff Stoll, The Cuckoo's Egg

Searching & Seizure, Evidence & Forensics

  • Surveillance Friending Braindeis Leaving CT
  • READING: CCIPS, Searching & Seizing Computers and Obtaining Electronic Evidence in Criminal Investigations 
  • Crimes Over the Network

    • Spam, Phishing
      • Can Spam Act
    • Fraud
    • Ransomware
    • Stalking
    • Identity Theft
  • Spyware
  • Intellectual Property Theft Leaving CT
  • Gambling
  • Example Syllabi

    • Prof. Chris Jay Hoffnagle, Computer Crime Law, Berkeley (Fall 2012)
    • Adjunct Professor Ronald N. Weikers, CyberCrime, Course Number CR0014LEC, Spring 2004



    • Threat vectors


    • Morris Worm
    • Stuxnet
    • READING: Cliff Stoll, The Cuckoo's Egg


    Friending Brandeis: Surveillance

    Friending Brandeis: Privacy: From Self Regulation to Surveillance State

    The Origins of the 4th Amendment

    The First Revolution: The Telephone

    • Brandeis
    • Olmstead
    • Katz
    • ECPA

    The Second Revolution: Computer Networks

    • ECPA
    • FISA

    The Third Revolution: Web 3.0 and User Generated Content

    • Social Media - Expectation of Privacy
      • Pew Internet
      • danah boyd
    • The Surveillance State
      • Snowden
      • Patriot Act
      • Use of social media (use of social media information to review applications for government benefits)
    • Corporate Surveillance
    • Employer / Employee Monitoring

    Online Privacy

    Question Who owns the data? How can the Right to Privacy and the Right to be forgotten be reconciled with the First Amendment?

    First Amendment

    Reading Rebecca MacKinnon, Consent of the Networked

    Question Who does Internet Freedom and New Media favor? Does it favor disruption and revolution? Or does Internet Freedom and New Media empower those in power as much as it empowers dissidents? Has New Media been a win or a loss?

    Internet and Intellectual Property

    Sample Syllabi



    • Spectrum
    • Scarecity
    • Public Trust
    • Public Safety (EAS)


    • History
      • Antitrust / NBC
    • Ownership
    • Obligations
      • Educational
    • Digital TV Transition


    • Ancillary Jurisdiction
    • Content negotiations
    • Must carry
    • ReTransmission Consent
    • PEG
    • Market Disruption: Over the Top Video

    First Amendment Leaving CT

    The Attention Marketplace

    • Twitter, and the Return of Real Time TV
    • Over the Top Video
      • Interconnection and barriers to market entry

    News / Fourth Estate

    • Associated Press, Western Union, and the Progressive Era
    • The Communications Needs of Local Communities, FCC Report
    • Audience becomes front line reporter
    • Information Gathering
      • Tiananmen Square
    • Broken Business Models
      • Revenue from classified ads, real estate
    • New Media
      • 2016 Election, Fake News and lack of authoritative media voice
      • Wikipedia
      • Market Disruption: New Media

    Reading Reading

    Question Has market disruption in the area of news media been a good thing or a bad thing? Explain?


    Reading Reading

    • Mass Media Law, Don R. Pember and Clay Calvert, McGraw Hill (used in undergraduate courses)
    • Mass Communication Law in Arkansas, Bruce L. Plopper, 4th ed.
    • Public Communication & The Law, Middleton, Chamberlin & Bunker,


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