Unlike friends in the United States, who are into the second week of teaching already, students at UEA Law School don’t arrive until September 27th. In the same way that your local football team will square up to some unusual opponents to get some work in before the real season gets going (like a less organised version of spring training), I’ve recently been talking about Internet law to some very different audiences. The first was part of a Year 10 Summer School at UEA. (Year 10 = age 14/15 in England, i.e. before GCSE exams). The summer school students had a very wide-ranging programme, including everything from computer games programming to persuasive communication (via how to study science fiction and a Dragons Den day), and the Law School contributed two sessions. One, with new Head of School Prof. Alastair Mullis, was on the popular topic of ‘celebrities and the law’. The other was with me, under the title ‘Law Books and Facebooks’. I found it very interesting, for all sorts of reasons, not least the debate that broke out over whether users would pay for Facebook (few would) and whether that would make a difference to their expectations in terms of rights and obligations (it would). Of course, as I’m certainly realising after a few events like this, you can now take for granted with a group of that age that every single person will have a Facebook account, and many will have stories to tell regarding embarrassing photographs, accidental exposure of information to the wrong people, or even more serious issues. The BBC3 Idiots Of Ants clip got another airing, too – it does seem to capture things very well.
The second warmup was even in a warm location, as part of the Intensive Programme on Transnational Law at the University of Deusto. Here, I did mention social networking towards the end of my talk, although the overall theme was the development and direction of international Internet law. You can see the slides here, although (as is often the case with my presentations), it’s not particularly informative without the accompanying explanations. I tend to use slides (Keynote, not PowerPoint!) as a backdrop or for emphasis rather than a record or substitute. But you may at least get a flavour of what I spent two hours talking about from the link. The audience on this occasion was a bright group of students from a range of European and US universities – mostly law students, some undergraduate and some postgraduate. About two-thirds of them had been online before the year 2000 – compare this with the Year 10s whose entire online experience comes after that date. Also, I was quite interested in their reactions to the place of Internet law within the study of international law (public and private). I think there is scope for more recognition of the links (both ways), particular as the story of Internet law and the UN institutions remains a fascinating study in political and legal machinations.
In the coming semester, I will be teaching undergraduate and postgraduate modules on Internet law (some information on the syllabi will appear on this blog, fingers crossed), and also contributing to undergraduate media law, constitutional law, and one of my favourite things (that looks tricky on paper but works well in practice), the joint postgraduate module, ‘Media and Society‘.