Harvard Law School‘s Cyberlaw Clinic, based at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, provides high-quality, pro-bono legal services to appropriate clients on issues relating to the Internet, technology, and intellectual property. Students enhance their preparation for high-tech practice and earn course credit by working on real-world litigation, client counseling, advocacy, and transactional / licensing projects and cases. The Clinic strives to help clients achieve success in their activities online, mindful of (and in response to) existing law. The Clinic also works with clients to shape the law’s development through policy and advocacy efforts. The Cyberlaw Clinic was the first of its kind, and it continues its tradition of innovation in its areas of practice. The Clinic works independently, with law students supervised by experienced and licensed attorneys. In some cases, the Clinic collaborates with counsel throughout the country to take advantage of regional or substantive legal expertise.
From the Blog
On Friday the Cyberlaw Clinic filed an amicus letter (PDF) on behalf of Global Voices Advocacy and the Media Legal Defence Initiative on an important case concerning anti-SLAPP law in California, currently being petitioned for review by the Supreme Court of California. Anti-SLAPP laws exist in numerous states to protect those speaking in government proceedings or on matters of public concern from facing frivilous lawsuits designed to dissuade them from speaking out. (“SLAPP” is an acronym for “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.”) In order to quickly remove vexatious lawsuits while allowing valid claims to go through, courts considering an anti-SLAPP motion require plaintiffs to show that a lawsuit has merit before before allowing the litigation go forward. Under California’s anti-SLAPP law, this means the plaintiff must state and substantiate all elements of their claim if they want to proceed. When a lawsuit is based on a claim of defamation, this includes proving that the speaker acted with fault, either with negligence or “actual malice.” →
“Bitcoin” and “law.” At first glance, the two concepts seem unlikely to appear together in a sentence, unless that sentence is “bitcoin exists outside the law” or “bitcoin was used to break the law.” Much of the mainstream media’s coverage of Bitcoin focuses on cases like the prosecution of the founder of Silk Road, a “Deep Web” marketplace where drugs were bought and sold using bitcoins. On the other hand, many within the Bitcoin community believe Bitcoin either cannot or should not be regulated.
On December 5, 2014 the Cyberlaw Clinic filed an amicus letter in the Supreme Court of California on behalf of Global Voices Advocacy and the Media Legal Defence Initiative in the case of Wineland-Thomson Adventures, Inc. v. Doe 1, No. S222624. In the brief, we argue that California’s anti -SLAPP law, Cal. Code Civ. P. § 425.16, should not allow a defamation plaintiff to survive a motion to strike if their complaint does not specify which statements on the defendant’s website they allege to be defamatory. The brief further argues that courts should not place a lower burden on defamation plaintiffs to prove a valid claim under anti-SLAPP law when suing anonymous online speakers. The amicus letter – a special form of brief allowed by the Supreme Court of California when they are considering taking on a case – demonstrates why the decision below can have particularly negative effects on independent online media operating internationally, who rely on Internet services in California to get their message out to the world.