Attorneys who make their
living defending Internet suits charge outrageously.
Most suits involve intellectual property law. Many companies
are unaware of the problem and are unprepared to cope
Clearly, the Internet has become an essential operational
feature of trade, despite the slump in Web-based commerce
and the dot-com decline. Only a few years ago only 12
million persons were accessing the Internet but now
this number is over 60 million and growing at geometrical
rates. Many companies are establishing websites and
communicate with others by means of e-mail, chat lines
and bulletin boards. Some companies have started to
promote and market products and services on the Internet.
Liability rules that applied to advertising injury,
libel, slander, infringement of copyright and trade
marks will have to be reformed to comply with changing
conditions of online communication.
What complicates matters is that the Internet is producing
many exposures of unknown quantity, causing insurers
frequently to introduce exclusions until they can get
a better handle on what these exposures may produce.
Currently looming as a future battleground with insurance
implications will be the question of who rightfully
owns a particular domain name for a Web site. It is
not unusual for one business to encounter another business
with a domain name or a Website address similar enough
to cause one or both of the parties to file suit.
Somehow, many people got the idea that if it was online,
it was free for the taking, and that copyright laws
do not apply. This is absolutely not true. If it's online,
the same kinds of laws apply as in the real world. Copyright
law is actually one of the easiest and most straight-forward
areas of cyberspace law. You should not steal someone
else's copyrighted material. Even if there is no copyright
statement, you can still assume that the material is
copyrighted and can't be distributed without the author's
or copyright holder's explicit consent.
Some of the biggest court cases involving cyberspace
copyright law have targeted service providers. Plaintiffs
hurt by copyright infringement have claimed that service
providers have a duty not to let subscribers steal copyrighted
material. The concept is called “vicarious infringement”
because the defendant did nothing but is considered
by the plaintiff to be responsible for infringements
of people who are its customers.
Many people still are unaware that a number of states
have passed laws against advertisers sending out masses
of unsolicited e-mail messages.