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Thursday, 28 February 2008

New edition of Laws of the Internet

The IPKat is delighted to see that the third edition of Gringras: the Laws of the Internet has just been published under the auspices of a brand-new team. This is the first Gringras to be published by Tottel and, like any legal work nowadays that aspires to be taken seriously, it is multi-authored. Alasdair Balfour tackles the competition law aspects, Stephen Hignett the tax bits and barrister Phillip Johnson the elements relating to trade marks, domain names and passing-off -- all this under the watchful eye of the work's principal author, Olswang's Elle Todd (pictured, right, looking authorial -- or is it authoritative?).

So what do you get for your money? The book starts with an easy-to-read introduction to the internet itself and to much of the terminology that drives it. There then follows a disclaimer that this book really is about English law. It doesn't have the token chapter on highlights of US law that British publishers are so fond of, which means that Tottel must be confident that the book will sell even without it, but the reader will encounter the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the Communications Decency Act and various other US legal sources where necessary. European Union law is not neglected either -- though there is not a lot of it on this particular topic right now.

The text, written in a clear, direct and unambiguous style, resonates with the monosyllabism of the principal author's names: you won't find long sentences meandering into a conclusionary "perhaps". The idea is that an intelligent reader who is not a legal scholar can navigate it effectively.


Left: "No", says Merpel, "I was looking for something on hot links, not hot lynx ..."


Any reader who gets bored with the subject-matter (and who can sustain an interest in the dry technicalities of data protection?) can switch to the myriad boxed scenarios that populate the text: the occurrences they describe are those with which the reader can far more easily identify.

For a reviewer who tends to see internet law as a sort of adventure playground for computer-savvy IP lawyers, this book has a strongly corrective effect. The work first focuses on the formation and enforcement of contracts made through the medium of the internet, then on its delictual dimension (negligent misstatement, defamation and product liability typical good examples). It is only halfway into the book that it picks up the IP theme, which it deserts 130 pages later for the dubious delights of criminal law, data protection, tax, competition and internet regulation.

Biographical details: hardback, xxxix + 531 pages (no wasteful appendices; index starts at p.503). ISBNs 1845922433 and 9781845922436. Price £128. Publisher's price "only" £128. More details and publisher's order form here. Rupture factor: moderate. Cover colour: purply mauvish.

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