The University of New South Wales

go to UNSW home page

Handbook Home

Table of Contents
List divider List divider

Use this search only if you have an exact code for a Program, Plan, or Course, e.g. 3400, ACCTA13502, ACCT1501 or ACCT*.
Use the main search box (Search the UNSW Handbook) if you do not have an exact code and want to use a keyword instead.

Online Content Regulation - LAWS8040
 Library lawn

Faculty: Faculty of Law
School:  Faculty of Law
Course Outline: See below
Campus: Kensington Campus
Career: Postgraduate
Units of Credit: 6
EFTSL: 0.12500 (more info)
Indicative Contact Hours per Week: 2
Enrolment Requirements:
Academic Program must be 9231 or 5231 or 9220 or 5750 or 9200 or 5740 or 9210 or 9230 or 9214 or 5214.
Excluded: JURD7440
CSS Contribution Charge:Band 1 (more info)
Further Information: See Class Timetable


This course examines the regulatory regimes for online media and content. Approximately half the course is devoted to content control by reference to intellectual property laws, and half examines other laws (such as defamation, tort and specific regulation of online content) which impose liability for or otherwise control supposedly harmful content. Throughout the course, various themes recur, such as: the liability of ISPs and other third parties for actions of others; the role of technology in providing protection; challenges for the law from a technological viewpoint; co-regulatory and self-regulatory models; and the cross-border nature of online media.

LLM Specialisation

Recommended Prior Knowledge


Course Objectives

Following the study of each topic, students should:
  • Have a functioning knowledge of the relevant laws regulating online content, both in Australia and in an international context
  • Be able to identify, interpret and apply the relevant laws
  • Be able to discuss conceptual and practical difficulties that may arise in the application of laws in an online context
  • Be able to identify the need and potential for further law reform
  • Have a functioning knowledge of the relevant technologies and policies and their interaction with the law in the context of the regulation of online content

Main Topics

The course attempts to undertake a brief review of the context of the particular topic (for example, the foundations of copyright, defamation etc), and then proceed to identify and examine those areas of the topic where online content provides a particular or novel challenge. These areas will then be considered and discussed in detail, focussing on theoretical analyses, policy directions, statutory materials and decided cases. Most topic areas will be treated in a comparative fashion, considering not only the laws in force in Australia, but also the international context in the area as well as developments in other major jurisdictions (in particular the US and the UK). A comparative approach in the assessments (in particular the research essay) is also encouraged.

Common themes running through the course include:
  • What unique features of the Internet create the need for new regulatory approaches?
  • Will a particular regulatory approach achieve its objectives?
  • What are the advantages/disadvantages of state-based v non-state-based regulatory strategies?
  • What common regulatory strategies are being used, such as imposing liability on intermediaries?
  • How do international agreements and the influence of other major jurisdictions (in particular the US) shape Australian laws?


Research essay 4,500 words 40%
Take home exam 3,000 words (3 questions) 50%
Class participation Preparation and engagement in class 10%

Course Texts


Recommended textbooks and resources:
•Akindemowo, O, Information Technology Law in Australia (LBC, 2001 (2nd ed))
•Fitzgerald, A et al, CyberLaw (Butterworths, 2002)
•Fitzgerald, A et al (eds), Going Digital 2000: Legal Issues for Electronic Commerce, Software and the Internet (Prospect Publishing, 2000)
•Fitzgerald, B et al, Internet and e-Commerce Law - Technology, Law and Policy (Thomson, 2007)
•Lawrence, A, The Law of Ecommerce (LexisNexis, 2003 (looseleaf))
•Lim, YF, Cyberspace Law: Commentaries and Materials (OUP, 2007 (2nd ed))
•Smith, G, Internet Law and Regulation (Sweet & Maxwell, 2002 (3rd ed))
•Online course materials


A detailed reading guide will be handed out at the first lecture. The reading guide includes core readings from the lecturer's loose-leaf service, The Law of Ecommerce (LexisNexis). Details as to availability are included in the reading guide.

URL for this page:

© The University of New South Wales (CRICOS Provider No.: 00098G), 2004-2011. The information contained in this Handbook is indicative only. While every effort is made to keep this information up-to-date, the University reserves the right to discontinue or vary arrangements, programs and courses at any time without notice and at its discretion. While the University will try to avoid or minimise any inconvenience, changes may also be made to programs, courses and staff after enrolment. The University may also set limits on the number of students in a course.