FALL 2010
Cyberlaw
Course No.: 9200-710 (& 810)-001
Course ID:  85723 & 85725
Time: M, W 4:45-6:15 p.m.
Room TBD
Professor Jay Dratler, Jr.
Across from Room 231D (IP Alcove)
Home: 330-835-4537
Copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010  Jay Dratler, Jr.  
For permission, see CMI.

THE "DARK SIDE" OF FREE SPEECH

A Web-Surfing Assignment

    NOTE: This assignment involves material that you may find shocking or repugnant.  You are not required to complete any part of this assignment that you find objectionable.  If you omit part of the assignment, however, please make an effort to discuss with a classmate the results of his or her browsing in a general way, so that you can participate meaningfully in class discussions.
    You are not required to register with, provide information or money to, patronize, or in any way endorse, support or approve of the Websites that you visit.
    Although doing so may inhibit your access to these sites, you may wish to disable "cookies" before completing the browsing part of this assignment.  (For a good, brief description of what "cookies" are and do, click here.)
    In Internet Explorer, cookie control appears under "View, Internet Options, Advanced, Security."  In Netscape, it appears under "Edit, Preferences, Advanced."  In each case, click on the "disable cookies," button, make sure the button is marked, and click "OK."

Using a personal computer with a Web browser, locate and browse at least one example of each of the following:

    1.  A "fringe" political Website, well outside the "mainstream" of two-party politics;
    2.  A pornographic Website; and
    3.  A "hate group" Website.
In defining these terms, use your own definitions and sensibilities, in accordance with Justice Stewart's famous dictum "I know it when I see it."  Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184, 197, 84 S.Ct. 1676, 12 L.Ed.2d 793 (1964) (Stewart, J., dissenting, speaking of hard-core pornography).

For each Website that you visit, make note of the following while you are browsing:
    A.  How easy or difficult is it to locate the Website?  Did you locate it by using a "search engine" or by other means?  Could impressionable children or other vulnerable people visit the Website by accident?  by design?  How?
    B.  What was your reaction upon browsing the Website?  What specific features evoked that reaction?  (Without spending any money, registering, or promoting the goals of the Website's operators, examine as much of the site as you can.  Try to be as objective as you can, as if you were a prosecutor investigating the site.)
    C.  Would you favor eliminating or regulating that particular Website?  in its accessibility to children and other vulnerable people?  in general?  If so, how would you do so without curtailing or "chilling" legitimate speech?  How would you define who is "vulnerable"?
    D.  What about links?  If you believe that access to a particular Website should be regulated without eliminating that Website, how would you do so? In particular, how would you limit or prohibit others from providing links to the Website, either in their own Web pages or in e-mails to associates, correspondents, and friends?  Would you criminalize linking to illicit sites or make linking subject to civil liability?  If so, how far would you carry that liability?  Just to the first "linker," or to anyone who linked to another linker, knowing that a page on the other linker's Website contained a link to the prohibited site?  Would that sort of liability withstand First Amendment scrutiny?

We will discuss these issues in class based in part upon the results of your browsing.


Back to Top