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PLS 780 Law of the Internet: Syllabus

PLS 780 Law of the Internet

King Hall Hall C4070
Thursday 6:10-10:00

Professor: Michael Germano
Text: 769-287-1015
Twitter: @profmgermano
Phone:  323-343-3963
Office Location: Library North Room 1018A (Ask for me at reference desk)
Office Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday (3:00-4:00) and Thursday 3:00-6:00 or by appointment
Required & Suggested Course Materials

  • Required: Cyberlaw Text and Cases 3rd Edition (Fererra, Reder, Bird et al.) South-Western 2012
  • Suggested: Global Internet Law in a Nutshell 2nd Edition (Rustad) West 2013
  • Course Website:


Course Description

PLS 780 LAW OF THE INTERNET (4 units).  Explores the range of legal issues related to both commercial and non-commercial uses of the Internet, including the law’s role in e-commerce and social media. Examines the rights and duties of businesses and individuals that use the Internet.   (Prerequisite:  PLS 755, Law Office Technology, or consent of instructor).
Course Objectives

PLS 780 Law of the Internet will prepare paralegal students for participation in litigation and dispute resolution related to individual and business activities that take place in digital environments. The explosive growth of everything like digital media to online social spaces are reshaping many substantive areas of law including criminal law, contracts, intellectual property and torts. The proposed course will equip students with the knowledge and critical thinking skills needed to more effectively practice in online, technology-driven industries such as music, entertainment and social media where e-commerce and the digital distribution of product are the norm and not the exception.
As more and more of our personal and professional lives intersect in online environments it is critical that paralegals, as future legal industry professionals, are cognizant of the complex issues implied by both corporate and individual online presence and actions. The course will introduce students to the broad concepts surrounding the intersections between business, intellectual property, constitutional protections, criminal activity and the Internet.  Emphasis will be placed upon understanding and critically evaluating individual rights and duties online, and how these are affected by legislative and judicial interaction as well as government regulation. 
Student Learning Outcomes

Students that successfully complete PLS780 will be able to do the following:

  • Understand the history, structure and technology of the Internet in order to better understand the legal issues faced by businesses and individuals who use it;
  • Appreciate how a complex system like the Internet requires a practical yet dynamic application of law and legal principles in order to meet the needs of society and business alike;
  • Think critically about the online activities of individuals and corporations while being capable of identifying the legal issues such activities might represent;
  • Prepare documents and client letters for litigation on legal issues specific to Internet users and e-commerce;
  • Support legal practitioners who advise clients by understanding and applying the broad principles of employment, contract and intellectual property law specifically to the Internet and online environments;
  • Problem-solve with respect to a wide number of Internet law issues including those related to contracts, employment law, intellectual property and regulatory compliance;
  • Conduct legal research related to issues of law and Internet based upon familiarity with many of the topics and terminology such issues might represent;
  • Apply federal legislation, case law and international conventions relevant to Internet activities in order to determine issues of legality;
  • Comprehend the elements of Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) and its advantages over other means of dispute resolution to resolve e-commerce disputes as well as the ways in which negotiation and mediation can take place online.

Course Requirements

Students in PLS 780 can earn 100 points total over the course of the quarter. The total points earned will determine the final grade:

A 95-100 C+ 75-78
A- 92-94 C 72-74
B+ 87-91 C- 69-71
B 83-86 D 65-68
B- 79-82 F <65

Grades are based upon the following requirements/deliverables:
·     Class Contributions/Participation/activities 30%
·     Concept Quizzes (4) 20%
·     Practical Writing Assignments (5) 30%
·     Final 20%
Brief descriptions of each deliverable are listed below. Consult the course calendar at the end of this syllabus for all due dates.
Class Contributions: Attendance is obligatory since 30 points/30% of your grade is based upon active engagement and participation in class discussions and exercises. Each class is worth 2 points so missing multiple classes will have an adverse impact on your grade. PLS 780 is highly participatory and interactive and will feature a significant amount of Socratic discussion. Failure to attend the entire class meeting and failure to actively participate when called upon will adversely impact your final grade by up two points per absence/non-participation, late arrival or early departure. Some classes will feature hands on activities that will be collected and evaluated by the professor.
Concept Quizzes: There will be four concept quizzes to test your understanding/knowledge of important ideas related to the course. These will be definition/short essay. Each quiz will haveup to 20 terms that need to be identified in a sentence or two. Concept quizzes are not cumulative. They are based upon the required reading for the day of the quiz as well as the week prior. Each quiz is worth 5 points. 20 points or 20% of your grade is based upon these quizzes. If you miss a quiz those points will be forfeited.
Short Writing Assignments: 30 points or 30% of your grade will be base upon five short writing assignments. These assignments will require you to apply course concepts in a practical and professional way. Each writing assignment will be worth 6 points. The specific instructions will be given to you the class/week before they are due. Late work will be penalized 1 point.
Exams: One exam, worth 20 points/20% of your grade, will be given during finals week. The  exam will be open book, open note, open computer. The exam will include a combination of questions that gauge your knowledge of course concepts as well as your ability to practically apply them by demonstrating appropriate analysis and problem solving and will be primarily essay and short essay.

Extra Credit: Extra credit (5 points) is available if you are concerned about your grade. Extra credit will be in the form of a 5 page practical memorandum on any topic of interest related to the class. Extra credit will be due by week 10. If you are interested in doing an extra credit memo see the professor or email him for topic approval.
Course Policies

A student that succeeds in PLS 780 must demonstrate the following traits and characteristics:

·     Owns a copy of the textbook and reads it regularly;

·     Observes all university policies related to academic honesty and adheres to them at all times;

·     Shows up on time and prepared for class each week and stays focused for the entire period;

·     Actively engages professor and classmates during discussions and class activities;

·     Adopts disciplined study/work habits that allocate at least 8 hours per week on average for outside preparation and completion of readings;

·     Is fully aware of all due dates, exam dates, course requirements and asks professor (via email or office hours) if they do not;

·     Checks email regularly and communicates with professor in a timely way when needed;

·     Does not make excuses for missed deadlines or failed work and instead offers solutions to the problem of not meeting course requirements;

·     Acts like an adult who accepts full responsibility for their choices and actions whether they result in success or failure;

·     Commits fully to their professional success as a student while achieving balance in their personal life so it does not impinge upon that commitment.

Students with Disabilities

The university provides reasonable accommodations to students with documented physical and learning disabilities.  The Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD), located in Student Affairs Room 115 coordinates all documentation of disabilities (323-343-3140) 

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