David J. Loundy


This Article gives a summary of the current regulatory structure in the United States governing a few of the "Empires of Cyberspace," such as bulletin board systems, electronic databases, file servers, networks (such as the Internet) and the like. Different legal analogies that may apply will be illustrated, and some of their strengths, weaknesses, and alternatives will be analyzed. I will begin by looking at different types of computer information systems, and then the major legal issues surrounding computer information systems will be surveyed in brief. Next, the different legal analogies which could be applied to computer information systems will be examined. These different analogies provide an understanding of how courts have seen various communication technologies, and how more traditional technologies are similar to computer information systems. Liability for improper activities—both defining what is improper and who can be held responsible—has been determined by the analogy the courts decide to apply. In the course of this analysis, it will be shown where some judges and legislators have gone wrong. Hopefully, as more attorneys, judges and legislators become familiar with computers and network communication, there will be fewer errors to point out.