Technology & the Law Sample Syllabus

Note: This is a sample syllabus. The real, updated syllabus is located at, which is password-protected and is available for students and guests only.

U25-3211—Technology & the Law
Washington University

Spring 2006
Wednesdays 5:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m.
Eliot 216

Instructors: Denise Lieberman, Esq., & Scott Granneman

Denise Lieberman

Adjunct Professor
Washington University in St. Louis, Dept. of Political Science
Washington University in St. Louis School of Law
Contact Info
Office: Eliot 317
Phone: 314-935-9010
Office Hours: T/Th 10-11:30 a.m.; 2:30—4 p.m. or by appointment

Scott Granneman

Adjunct Professor
Washington University in St. Louis
Webster University
Don't Click on the Blue E!: Switching to Firefox (O'Reilly: 2005)
Hacking Knoppix (Wiley & Sons: 2005)
Columnist for SecurityFocus & Linux Magazine
Professional blogger for The Open Source Weblog
Full list of publications at /writing
Senior Consultant in Internet Services, WebSanity
Contact Info

Course Description

Technology and the law have always been somewhat intertwined, and always with a healthy tension between the values that each area holds dear. For instance, where technology values almost constant leaps of innovation, the law is more deliberate in its progression. In the last decade, with the rapid growth in technology, we have seen the tension between technology and the legal system increase dramatically. In this course, we will look at some of the key conflicts involving technology, the legal system, and civil liberties, including free speech and censorship in cyberspace; national security, ubiquitous surveillance and privacy; genetically modified foods; peer to peer file sharing; and ownership of virtual property.

Taught jointly by a lawyer with expertise in constitutional law, civil liberties and cyberliberties and a technology consultant with expertise in existing and emerging technologies, the class will examine emerging technologies and the ability of the law to respond to those technologies.

Our class meetings will be highly interactive and therefore preparation for each class meeting is very important. Students will learn how to read and understand court decisions, how to "brief" cases, and how precedent and politics affect the courts≠ rulings.

Required Texts

Doug Isenberg.The GigaLaw Guide to Internet Law. Random House (2002).

Additional readings will consist of articles, analyses, & ephemera from the Internet, accessible on the class web site. You are expected to check the course website each week for updated assignments. If you ever want to pursue a topic further, you can look up further readings using Search (also located at the bottom of every page) or the Site Map.


Your grade will be based on the following factors:

Grades will be based on an average of the above as follows:

100 A+
93-99 A
89-92 A-
86-88 B+
82-85 B
79-81 B-
76-78 C+
73-75 C
69-72 C-
66-68 D+
63-65 D
59-62 D-
0-58 F

Accommodation of disabilities: Washington University is committed to providing accommodations and/or services to students with documented disabilities. Students who are seeking support for a disability or a suspected disability should contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) at 5-4062 in Gregg Hall. ( The DRC is responsible for approving and arranging all accommodations for University students.

Academic Integrity

Policy regarding academic dishonesty: This course will follow Washington University's policies concerning academic dishonesty. Academic dishonesty may result in failure for the assignment in question and/or referral to the college's Academic Integrity Office, which has discretion to impose a stricter penalty. While academic dishonesty includes cheating on exams and quizzes, it also includes plagiarism in written assignments. Plagiarism is not only passing off someone else's work as your own, but also giving your work to someone else to pass off as their own. It also includes submitting work from another course. While I strongly encourage you to discuss your work with each other in and out of class, and while you may research issues together, your writing should be your own. The papers you submit must be your work alone, and must include citations to all references in your work. Please include the URL, or Web address, for articles and resources found on the Internet.


It is paramount that we respect each other online, in both email and the discussion group. Follow this simple rule: disagree with the idea, but not the person. In other words, it's OK to say "That's a bad idea, because …", and it's not OK to say "You're a bad/stupid/inconsiderate person, because …". If you have an issue with a classmate's behavior online, please bring it to me privately by emailing me at If you'd like to find out more, please feel free to read The Core Rules of Netiquette, by Virginia Shea.

Tentative Schedule

Free Speech

25 Jan 2006: Free Speech & the Nature of the Internet

Censorship & Regulation of Content: Sex

Censorship & Regulation of Content: Hate Speech

National Security and the First Amendment



Privacy in Public

Privacy in the Workplace

Privacy of Data and Information Online

Privacy of Personal Information: Biometrics

Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property Overview

Intellectual Property: Trademarks

Intellectual Property: Copyright

Intellectual Property: Copyright Controls

Intellectual Property: Peer2Peer File Sharing

Intellectual Property: Patents

The Future, Now


Virtual Worlds, Virtual Property

WebSanity Top Secret