CPT's Page on Jurisdiction in Cyberspace

CPT and other Consumer Documents on Cyberspace Jurisdiction

  • The Hague Conference on Private International Law's Proposed Convention on Jurisdiction and Foreign Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters.
  • TACD recommendation (15-00) on Jurisdiction on cross-border consumer contracts.
  • Examples of Jurisdictional Clauses in Current Shrinkwrap and Clickwrap Contracts.

    Cyberspace Jurisdiction in the News

  • April 2001. Peter K. Yu. Conflict of Laws Issues in International Copyright Cases. Gigalaw.
  • February 27, 2001. Matt Gallaway. International Jurisdiction Soup. Ecompany.com.
  • November 22, 2000. Paul Meller. Jurisdiction Dispute Heats Up in Europe. The Standard.
  • November 2000. Don McGowan, Stikeman Elliott. Internet Jurisdiction: The View From the Quebec Courts. Butterworths.
  • October 9, 2000. Esther Dyson. Sharing Content Without Control. LA Times.

    Brussels Convention

    Lefebure v. Lacambre
    French model Estelle Lefebure sued an ISP that hosted a website which displayed unauthorized nude pictures of her. Lefebure claimed that the ISP violated her privacy by hosting said website. The French court concluded that an ISP "is obliged to guarantee the morality of those that he provides service to, that these parties respect the rules governing the World Wide Web and that they respect national laws and regulations as well as third-party rights." The court ordered the ISP to take down the violating website and ensure that the offending pictures were not displayed on any other websites hosted by the ISP or be subject to substantial per diem fines. The ISP was also ordered to pay the plaintiff damages.

    The Lefebure case has international implications as well. According to a 1999 paper by Barbara Shufro (of Pillsbury Madison & Sutro LLP, source referenced below):

    "French courts, therefore, are a likely forum for invasion of privacy claims based on Internet speech. Under French law, a claimant can bring such a case even if neither party is a French citizen. If the claimant can not enforce the judgement in the United States, any assets located in France would be at risk"

    Nottinghamshire County Council v. Gwatkin (UK)
    Claiming copyright breach, the Nottinghamshire County Council (UK) issued injunctions against several journalists to prevent them from disseminating a leaked report that "strongly criticises [the Council's] handling of allegations of satanic abuse of children in the 1980s." (quote from Independent article, referenced below) Despite the Council's injunctions, the report had been posted and mirrored on multiple websites around the world.

    Additionally, County legal representatives asked a Canadian website owner to take down a hyperlink to an American website featuring the report (the Canadian had previously removed a copy of the report from his own site) on the grounds that the hyperlink constituted infringement of the Council's copyrighted report.

    However, a "U.S.-based operator of a mirror site refused to recognize the jurisdiction of the English court and insisted that the report, which did not name the children, was a public document that should not be suppressed." (quote from Leibowitz paper, referenced below).

    The Council eventually dropped its case.

    David Shayler Spy Case
    David Shayler is a former agent of Britain's MI5 domestic intelligence agency. Shayler sought to blow the whistle on alleged abuses by British intelligence agencies by providing evidence to the media. Although Shayler moved to France to escape the jurisidiction of the British Official Secrets Act, the British government sought to invoke government copyright to prevent him from releasing additional information about British government activities. According to a May 22, 2000 article in The Nation (referenced below),

    "All the information Shayler supplied to the media documenting MI5 misconduct and abuse of power is copy righted by the government, the new lawsuit claims, and the news papers that published it infringed on the government's copyright and therefore must pay damages. According to Richard Norton-Taylor, who has covered the story for The Guardian, the lawsuit "makes clear that the government wants the power to sue newspapers and broadcasters whenever they publish allegations about intelligence agencies without prior authority."

    "The target of the lawsuit is the London tabloid Mail on Sunday, the first to publish Shayler's revelations in August 1997. The government seeks damages based on the newspaper's profits from extra sales of the paper resulting from its Shayler coverage. Apparently the government hopes that attacking media profits with this strategy will provide a more effective means of censorship than pursuing criminalcharges under the Official Secrets Act."

    India Linking Case

    Yahoo/Nazi/France Dispute
    Relevant Court Briefs (from the Center for Democracy and Technology's website)


    Yahoo/Nazi/Germany Dispute

    Active Projects on Jurisdiction

    Misc. Rants and Thoughtful Comments


    This is a pretty new page, so send suggestions.

    Questions, comments and suggestions to Vergil Bushnell vbushnell@cptech.org

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