The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School is a leader in the study of the law and policy around the Internet and other emerging technologies.
Whether and when communications platforms like Google, Twitter and Facebook are liable for their users’ online activities is one of the key factors that affects innovation and free speech. Most creative expression today takes place over communications networks owned by private companies. Governments around the world increasingly press intermediaries to block their users’ undesirable online content in order to suppress dissent, hate speech, privacy violations and the like. One form of pressure is to make communications intermediaries legally responsible for what their users do and say. Liability regimes that put platform companies at legal risk for users’ online activity are a form of censorship-by-proxy, and thereby imperil both free expression and innovation, even as governments seek to resolve very real policy problems.
In the United States, the core doctrines of section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act have allowed these online intermediary platforms user generated content to flourish. But, immunities and safe harbors for intermediaries are under threat in the U.S. and globally as governments seek to deputize intermediaries to assist in law enforcement.
To contribute to this important policy debate, CIS studies international approaches to intermediary obligations concerning users’ copyright infringement, defamation, hate speech or other vicarious liabilities, immunities, or safe harbors; publishes a repository of information on international liability regimes and works with global platforms and free expression groups to advocate for policies that will protect innovation, freedom of expression, privacy and other user rights.
“Loaded” Kodi set-top boxes are back in the copyright news again this week. (If you’re wondering what Kodi boxes are, and what they have to do with copyrights, here’s a backgrounder.) The CJEU has decided BREIN v. Wullems, a case involving the rights of communication to the public and reproduction. Read more about Copyright Liability for Streaming Box Distributors: A Comparative EU-US Perspective
The EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect in the spring of 2018, bringing with it a newly codified version of the “Right to Be Forgotten” (RTBF). Depending how the new law is interpreted, this right could prove broader than the “right to be de-listed” established in 2014’s Google Spain case. It could put even more decisions about the balance between privacy and free expression in the hands of private Internet platforms like Google. Read more about The “Right to Be Forgotten” and National Laws Under the GDPR
Updated May 11, 2017. Keep your recommendations coming and I'll update periodically.
Nailing down the definitive literature on First Amendment expressive freedoms is a tricky task. What’s the consensus among scholars about the classics? Even more complex is figuring out what emerging scholarship on the intersection of speech and press freedoms with new media technologies will have a lasting impact. Read more about Crowdsourced Lit Review: First Amendment Theory & Technology