Book review: Internet Law and Regulation

This Kat has been looking forward to reading Sweet & Maxwell’s fifth edition of Internet Law and Regulation for a long time. She must confess that the book was trapped in her office since she left there unknowingly for the last time earlier this year, way back in March! Luckily, she was able to retrieve some books from her office just before the Tier 4 rules kicked in, so can now bring you a much belated review: 


To begin, the first thing to mention is that this book is no casual read, weighing in at 1625 pages. The previous edition was published 12 years ago, so there was certainly a lot to catch up on. In that time the internet and social media have come a long way, and so the legislation, case law and policy have been developed and continue to do so. As Graham Smith comments in the preface, writing a book on internet law these days is pretty much writing a book on law; because the seeds of the internet have been sown in all the fields of regulation. As such, a selection process for the topics covered in the book was necessary. Graham explains that some areas had significant legislative, judicial and policy activity that called for more comprehensive treatment, for example copyright. However, Graham explains, the book also indulges in other more obscure nook and crannies of the law. 

The book is authored by cyberlaw expert Graham Smith and a team of contributors from Bird & Bird. It focuses on UK law, but also takes a comparative approach where relevant to discuss the laws of other jurisdictions including Australia, USA, Canada and Singapore. 

For ease of navigation, there is an extended table of contents, which is supplemented by mini tables of contents for each chapter, plus tables of cases and legislation. At the back you will find a technical glossary and an index. 

The book starts with addressing the ever-complex question of “what is the internet?” It delves into the technical infrastructure, providing definitions and discussing the roles of internet actors. Chapter 2 looks in detail at copyright, confidential information and patents. It covers history, theory and practice of digital copyright, as well as considering the challenges to copyright. It provides a thorough analysis of copyright infringement online, including databases, from ‘communication to the public’ to hosting liability and criminal offenses. It also has a section specifically covering internet infringement issues such as web linking, search engines and peer-to-peer software distribution. It also comments, of course, on the Digital Single Market Directive, with reference to this Katpost [p60]. The chapter concludes with coverage of confidential information and patentability of software and business models. 

Chapter 3 considers trade mark disputes and the internet; including trade mark infringement, metatags and keywords, cybersquatting and ISP liability. It also covers domain names, including the application of passing off and fraud, and domain name disputes. Chapter 4 covers defamation, and chapter 5 turns to content liability, policing and enforcement. Building on this, chapter 6 covers cross-border liability. Chapters 7 and 8 look at data protection and eprivacy, and lawful access and data retention correspondingly. 

Keyboard Kitten
Image: Dougwoods
Chapter 9 then moves to consider communications and broadcasting regulation and chapter 10 covers electronic contracts and transactions, followed by chapter 11 which looks at payment mechanisms for internet commerce. Prohibited and regulated activities are covered in chapter 12, including computer misuse, online offenses such as harassment and sexual offenses, contempt of court, gambling and pharmaceuticals. Chapter 13 looks at tax, and lastly chapter 14 covers competition law and the internet. 

This book is an essential resource to anyone practising or researching in any area of law that involves the internet, whether this be a predominantly online area, or one where the relationship is developing. It covers a vast amount of legal issues online, with particularly extensive coverage on intellectual property law, including copyright, confidential information, patents, trade marks, and domain names. The book provides a comprehensive study of current and developing areas of internet law, delivering both in-depth analysis and practical guidance. Whilst considerable in length, the layout makes the book easy to navigate and will no doubt become a well-thumbed reference guide for academics and practitioners alike. 

5th Edition
ISBN:  9780414047891
Published by: Sweet & Maxwell
Author: Graham Smith, 
Format: Hardback or ebook
Book review: Internet Law and Regulation Book review: Internet Law and Regulation Reviewed by Hayleigh Bosher on Wednesday, December 23, 2020 Rating: 5

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