Review: The GigaLaw Guide to Internet Law

This one is an oldie (in Internet terms) but a goodie.  Even though it was published in 2002, The GigaLaw Guide to Internet Law is still an extremely valuable resource today.   Written by Doug Isenberg, who founded, an Internet site consolidating news relating to Internet law (long before RSS feeds and newsreaders were popular, Doug hand edited the home page with fresh content daily).  The daily e-mail updates almost always include an interesting story.

If you’ve never read Doug before, you’ll be surprised at how well he explains complicated legal issues, with technical detail, in an easy to understand manner.  Over the past several years, this has been a valuable reference on my bookshelf.  This isn’t a book you read cover to cover; it’s broken down into major parts (Copyright Law, Domain Names and Trademarks, Patent Law, Privacy, Free Speech and the First Amendment, Contract Law and High Technology, and Employment Law), with chapters focusing on specific topics in each part (COPPA, Spam, Message Board Misconduct, etc).  Pick the topic you need and read that chapter for an overview of the issues and precedents.

Since its original writing, additional cases have decided in many important areas, especially in Spam and privacy laws, so you shouldn’t take the case studies as a comprehensive list.  Just to take a trip down memory lane, one of the case studies invloves a Playboy Playmate using “Playboy” in the META tags of her website.  Blogs aren’t mentioned, but there is good discussion about message boards.  The issues and arguments regarding each of these topics are still relevant, but finer issues have been worked out by additional precedents.  It will be worth watching if Doug publishes an updated version.  If so, it would be a good idea to get a copy immediately.  If not, chapters such as “The Basics of Copyright Law” and “Website Development Agreements” make this is still an excellent (and understandable) introduction to complicated legal issues surrounding Internet law.  This book is available in both print and downloadable electronic format from Amazon.