See what else the University of Miami School of Law has to offer you

An Unofficial Guide
to Computer and Internet Law at UM

Although Miami may be a long way from Silicon Valley, the University of Miami School of Law offers a rich variety of courses in computer and Internet law, and in related subjects. (And while we do have sun, we don't have earthquakes.) The Law School currently offers eight courses, seminars, and workshops devoted to aspects of the legal issues relating to computers, the Internet, or the effects of computers on established legal regimes such as copyright and other intellectual property. The Law School also offers a large number of courses in related subjects.

These courses, seminars, and workshops are not just for students considering a high-technology practice -- on the contrary, they should be of interest to anyone who wants to understand the effect of technological change on the law and on society at large. The introductory Internet Law course assumes no prior knowledge of computers or the Internet other than an ability to send and receive e-mail and operate a browser well enough to read this page. Seminars -- in which enrollment is limited to 16 or fewer students each of whom writes a research paper -- are more advanced and often require that you have taken a related course as a pre-requisite.

Many other courses in the curriculum provide an essential introduction to topics relevant to computer and Internet law, including alternate dispute resolution, banking, conflict of laws, trademarks, patents, and commercial law.


Copyright Law.  An introduction to the legal treatment of the creation and distribution of artistic, musical and literary works (including computer programs) under the Copyright Act of 1976. The focus is on copyrightability and infringement, primarily with regard to U.S. works. References to trademark and patent law will be made only for comparative purposes. After decades of being mired in obscurity as the metaphysical branch of doctrine having to do with the protection of works of fine art, copyright has come to the forefront of legal discussion as we have become "the information society" and as commodities have come to be prized as much for their attractive design as for their function. So does the elegant teapot design get copyright protection? Does copyright protect your friend's ballroom dance routine against appropriation by another? Is the structure of your computer program protectible against borrowing by a programmer who does not take a single item of your program's protectible expression? How about yellow pages directories or stock market databases? What should be the appropriate balance between every author's desire for full property protection and the public's need for ample access to intellectual work product? What do you have to do to "get" copyright protection for the great American novel you just finished? How long should the protection last and how broad should it be? What does it mean to infringe someone's copyright in a musical composition, a novel, a screenplay, a photograph? How about an infringing parody of a copyrighted work - is it permitted as a fair use nevertheless?

International Copyright. Prof. Haun. An introduction to international copyright and cultural property issues, treaties, policies and theories. With the advent of the global Information Infrastructure ("GII") and electronic commerce, lawyers need a working knowledge of how copyright product produced in the U.S. can be protected in a global economy. Because almost all U.S. corporations, large or small, are now establishing internet web sites or actually transacting business over the internet, they are all virtual global businesses. Vice President Gore in A Framework for Global Electronic Commerce (1997), predicted that GII commerce, including commerce in copyrighted products, will produce internet commerce of tens of billions of dollars by the turn of the century. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the World Intellectual Property Organization and others are presently engaged in establishing refinements to existing worldwide copyright treaties and practices, in part to further define and clarify existing rights under existing treaties, and to promote effective protection for copyrights in the digital world. Students learn basic global copyright theory and learn how to negotiate the major copyright treaties and agreements including WIPO (1996), Berne, GATT/TRIPS, NAFTA, UCC, Rome, and cultural property agreements and proposals.

Internet Law. Prof. Froomkin. A survey of the diverse legal problems that arise from the global computer communication network known as the Internet. To the greatest extent possible, choice of topics will be driven by current events. It is likely that topics covered will include: jurisdiction, anonymity and libel, privacy issues, censorship and pornography, cryptography and export control, and the commercial and legal impacts of new technologies such as e-cash a digital signatures. Internet Law is a useful preparation for several related seminars.

Legal Research Techniques. Advanced research concepts and methods as they apply to federal and state legislative history, administrative research, litigation tools, loose-leaf services, and other secondary source materials. Tradiitonal print resources are compared with LEXIS, WESTLAW, and Internet resources.


Law of Electronic Commerce. Prof. Froomkin. A survey of the legal issues related to the growth of interlinked computer networks and bulletin boards, with a focus on electronic commerce over Internet. Topics to be covered will be dictated to some extent by current events, but will include: regulation of electronic cash, digital signature legislation in Florida and around the world, jurisdictional issues, and the regulation of cryptography,

Computer Analysis of Legal Texts Workshop. Prof. Gudridge Do computers provide a means for analyzing legal texts that are different in kind from the modes of reading lawyers ordinarily bring to bear? Some legal documents are now, for many purposes, unreadable. Only a few persons claim to have read and remembered the entirety of the Internal Revenue Code, congressional Statutes at Large for 1981, or the Code of Federal Regulations as such. Instead, for the most part, we divide large legal texts into parts, and read what we can, and assume we have missed nothing important. Are we right? What would we know if we read all of 33 F.3d from front to back? We can program computers to do this reading. Do we want to?

This seminar is a series of experiments. It begins by looking closely at the computerized reading law students already program - Westlaw and Lexis searches. What are the jurisprudential assumptions that shape the techniques used in these searches? Students will undertake searches, analyze their strategies, and compare their approaches with the methods they would employ if they used only traditional library materials. Following this introductory exercise, the seminar surveys forms of computerized content analysis already in use in nonlegal fields of work (e.g., classical studies, computational linguistics). Finally, the seminar takes up selected legal corpora (perhaps, for example, the succeeding texts of the constitution of the State of Florida). Students will use available computer programs to map these corpora (for example, construct concordances) in order to try to identify features of the documents which are otherwise not apparent but which are indeed of relevance to lawyers - to open up, in other words, new legal readings.

Intellectual Property in the Digital Era. Prof. Froomkin. The growth of easily-copied digitized data -- words, pictures, and other media -- creates a number of problems for existing intellectual property regimes, as does the growth of the Internet. Participants in this seminar will jointly explore contemporary Intellectual Property problems relating to networks and digitized information such as, and probably including:

Music Copyright and Licensing. Prof. Hahn. A discussion of major topics in music copyright and publishing, the many types of licenses available and necessary for music use in entertainment and business settings, and music industry practice. Students are introduced to the basics of interpreting and drafting music licenses presently in use, and study music licensing for the Internet and other new media as they are evolving in the digital environment.

Related Courses

Alternative Dispute Resolution. Profs. Freshman / Williamson

Banking. Prof. Langbein.

Broadcast Regulation. Prof. Levi

Commercial Law II. Prof. Hausler.

Conflict of Laws. Profs .Hausler / Oxman

Consumer Law. Prof. Schiff.

Defamation and Privacy. Prof. Levi

International Conflict of Laws

International Sales

Patent Law. Prof Gaubatz

Trademark and Trade Secret Workshop. Prof. Morgan.

Revised Feb 3, 1999