Internet Law

Subject LAWS70396 (2014)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2014.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 7 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2014.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: The total class time is between 24 and 26 hours.
Total Time Commitment: Not available
Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Applicants without legal qualifications should note that subjects are offered in the discipline of law at an advanced graduate level. While every effort will be made to meet the needs of students trained in other fields, concessions will not be made in the general level of instruction or assessment. Most subjects assume the knowledge usually acquired in a degree in law (LLB, JD or equivalent). Applicants should note that admission to some subjects in the Melbourne Law Masters will be dependent upon the individual applicant’s educational background and professional experience.

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

The Melbourne Law Masters welcomes applications from students with disabilities. The inherent academic requirements for study in the Melbourne Law Masters are:

  • The ability to attend a minimum of 75% of classes and actively engage in the analysis and critique of complex materials and debate;
  • The ability to read, analyse and comprehend complex written legal materials and complex interdisciplinary materials;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate in writing a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and to critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate orally a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to work independently and as a part of a group;
  • The ability to present orally and in writing legal analysis to a professional standard.

Students who feel their disability will inhibit them from meeting these inherent academic requirements are encouraged to contact the Disability Liaison Unit:


For more information, contact the Melbourne Law Masters office.

Phone: +61 3 8344 6190

Subject Overview:

The internet turned 21 in 2013, and remains the fastest-growing medium of communications. It is also a uniquely democratic means of communication, blurring the traditional boundaries between publisher and reader. It has created unparalleled opportunities for sharing, fully duplex peer communications and novel types of social media. Nevertheless the legal rules governing it remain unsettled and are arguably too old-fashioned for the modern environment. These developing legal rules and norms are the focus of this subject, taught by international expert Professor Dan Hunter, media lawyer Jonathan Gill and Professor Megan Richardson. Topics to be considered include copyright laws related to user-generated content, the regulation of social networks, privacy, libel tourism, online obscenity and collaborative internet-based contracting.

Principal topics will include:

  • Overview of technology and avenues of distribution
  • Copyright and allied rights in online services
  • Commissioning and licensing material
  • Regulation of transnational online products and services
  • Internet contracting and consumer protection issues
  • Censorship of material distributed via online services
  • Defamation and privacy
  • Obscenity
  • Journalists and the internet
  • Theoretical issues such as the nature of democratic governance in a borderless world, regulatory arbitrage and the appropriate basis for liability where internet businesses encourage others to offend.
Learning Outcomes:

A student who has successfully completed this subject should:

  • Have a good understanding of the regulatory regimes and principles and attendant legal issues which apply to the production, operation and distribution of online products and services
  • Have a developed capacity to analyse and apply a range of legal principles (especially contract, copyright, defamation, privacy, obscenity) which arise in relation to the production, commercialisation and financing of online products and services
  • Be well-placed to critically evaluate the impact of the law and various proposals for reform of the law
  • Have a nuanced appreciation of the difficult theoretical issues that the internet (especially) throws up
  • Class participation, including a short in-class presentation on one of the seminar topics (10%)
  • Take-home examination (90%) (18 – 21 July)
  • 8,000 word research paper (90%) (3 September) on a topic approved by the subject coordinator
Prescribed Texts:

Core subject materials will be provided free of charge to all students. Some subjects require further texts to be purchased. Details regarding any prescribed texts will be provided prior to the commencement of the subject.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information:

Download PDF version.