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Little on Internet Choice of Law Governance

Laura E. Little, who is a professor of law at Temple University, has posted Internet Choice of Law Governance on SSRN.

As society and legal institutions have become more accustomed to internet communications and transactions, some legal thinkers urge that existing approaches to governance developed outside the internet context are well suited for resolving internet choice of law issues. In this essay, Professor Little argues against this position, observing that internet disputes continue to pose unique choice of law problems and to call for special focus on developing appropriate governance rules. Professor Little finds evidence of this need for special focus in several phenomena, including: (1) the continuing tendency of courts to pursue unilateral decision-making despite multi-jurisdictional interests or global effects of internet disputes; and (2) the legal and cultural clashes that arise in disputes implicating freedom of expression. The internet plays a crucial role in developing new cultural and creative forms, such as fan fiction, mashups, scanlations, and various forms of humor. This raises the stakes of identifying appropriate regulatory forms for internet communication. Special study of internet choice of law problems has the potential to provide the United States with insight into other countries’ methods of crediting human dignity in regulating hate speech and defamation as well as to create greater understanding among nations.

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