Cyberlaw for Information Professionals

LITA 50 Years logoDisclaimer! I get lost quickly when getting into the terms and specifics of law. So I may have misstated something. Please use this only as an intro not a definitive statement.


  • LITA, too, is celebrating 50 years
  • http://www.ala.org/lita/
  • Hashtag = #cyberlaw
  • “The was no more ‘law of cyberspace’ than there was a ‘law of the horse.’”
    • Meaning we don’t need to create a new law to deal with cyberspace just as we didn’t need to create a new law to deal with horses.
  • Cyberspace isn’t something new, it’s just a new medium to deliver info
    • Was = Books
    • Now = Internet
  • The law of the place you’re in has always been fuzzy. Example: In the ALA conference, I’m subject to:
    • Law of ALA Code of Conduct
    • Laws of City of Chicago
    • Laws of State of Illinois
    • Laws of United States
  • Cyberspace means that now you don’t even need to be physically located at the conference to be subject to those 4 laws.
  • Example of place fuzziness: A bomb threat sent over the internet went from Utah to Virginia back to Utah. Because of the location of the servers. Crossing state lines made it a federal offense.
  • U.S. has a “Sliding Scale of Internet Jurisdiction”
    • One side of the scale: Displaying info = passive site
    • The other side of the scale: Site integrated comments or sign up or some interaction = active site
  • Country of origin (US, Canada, and EU) Vs. Country of Reception
    • Comply with law of where the thing is Vs Comply with all possible laws where it could possibly travel to
    • EU has Brussels Regulation Recast: jurisdiction is based on the domicile of the defendant
  • “Tort” is a law term that means you seek damages in monetary form not jail time
  • Digital Accessibility and Intellectual Property
  • Copyright’s Bundle of Rights:
    • the right to reproduce the copyrighted work
    • the right to prepare derivative works based upon the work
    • the right to distribute copies of the work to the public
    • the right to perform the copyrighted work publicly
    • the right to display the copyrighted work publicly
  • Chaffee Amendment: it is not an infringement for an authorized entity to make copies and distribute. Libraries fall into this.
  • World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) met in Marrakesh to end global “book famine” for the visually impaired.
    • Only 57 countries allow scanning and changing works to make accessible.
    • This is the first time the focus was on User rights, not author/publisher rights
    • Hasn’t been passed yet
  • Some countries (Iceland, Sweden, Finland among them) have dropbox accounts that make scans of works available
  • The guidelines for ADA compliance in regards to websites have been delayed since 2010, so there are NO guidelines.
    • Due process violation: the defendant can’t be expected to comply with guidelines that they don’t know.
  • ADA’s reach is limited to physical spaces and therefore not in effect in Cyberspace
  • Net Neutrality
    • This is not the first time this has come up. For example there was a tech-neutrality that had to do with a telephone switchboard operator not letting certain calls go through based on her biases.
  • I should brush up on Common Carrier Concept
  • FCC reclassified broadband under Title II as a common carrier
    • However a former Verizon lawyer is now head of the FCC and he reversed the ruling
    • ISPs with less than 250k subscribers no longer have to disclose network performance, fees, or data caps. So big companies may split to get under this subscriber number
    • FCC is halting Lifeline program that gave low-income households a $9.25 a month credit so that they can buy broadband
  • Congressional Review Act, allows congress and the pres to overturn recently passed agency regulations AND prevents the agency from implementing similar rules in the future.
  • July 12 2017 a bunch of big companies (ALA Amazon Mozilla) will band together to defend Net Neutrality.
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