Cyberlaw in the Supreme Court

Stanford Law School

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On March 29, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in two cases that together will greatly determine how government can and will regulate the Internet in the future, and the impact that the public interest will have on the development of cyberlaw over the next decade.

In MGM v. Grokster, the Court will decide whether copyright holders can veto consumer electronics and computing innovations that upset the content industries' prevailing business models, even where the technology's non-infringing uses provide substantial benefits to consumers. The question is whether consumer demand for new and better products will drive technological development, or copyright owners' demand for control will retard it.

In Brand X v. FCC, the Court will decide whether the FCC should retain the option to regulate cable modem services to promote open access to broadband lines, universal service and network neutrality, as it did in the early days of the Internet when most people connected over common-carrier telephone lines. The question is whether tomorrow's communications services will be defined by citizen choices or by the business interests of a handful of cable broadband companies.

At Cyberlaw in the Supreme Court, the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society will convene a discussion of these cases, their broader implications, and what effect the pending Supreme Court decisions could have on the public interest. Panels of attorneys litigating and arguing these cases, the parties affected by them, the policy advocates whose work will begin once the Judges rule, and the people thinking about what the legal landscape will look like for the next ten years will discuss both cases and the impact the decisions will have on the future.

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Monty Solomon
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