Do You Have a Lawyer Who Understands the Internet?

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Welcome to Traverse, where we discuss the hottest topics in Internet law. If you face an Internet law issue, cyber law complaint, website, or e-commerce issue, we have an Internet lawyer ready to help.


The Internet is a Highly Complex Place

There are web hosting companies, affiliate marketers, e-commerce agreements, clickwrap agreements, and social media defamation. Several issues surround the DNS system and the Domain Name Server system. ICANN, which is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, and the registration of domain names, controlled by registries and sold through registrars to registrants, are complex facets of the internet. There are also subpoena issues regarding digital information you might need from internet service providers or ISPs to prove yoru litigaiton case.  

Suppose you have to identify anonymous people on the internet. There’s a whole piece of technology that a lawyer or an attorney must understand how to maek that happen by filing a lawsuit or sending a subpoeana.

My name is Internet Law Attorney Enrico Shaefer, and today we’re going to be talking a bit about the intersections between technology and the law. 

The World Has Changed. Business Happens on the Internet

Back before the internet, there used to be loosely defined Technology Attorneys. These attorneys understood software, networks, and hardware and understood enough to lend their legal experience to clients who existed in those spaces. But the world has changed. It’s a whole different place, and there is now a lot of business conducted on the internet. The primary calling card for every business is their website. 

You Need an Attorney who Understands the Internet

Suppose you’ve got an issue, which somehow deals with your website, your domain name, or with the internet itself. In that case, you’re going to need an attorney who not only understands the area of law involved but, perhaps even more importantly, understands how the internet works. A lawyer who does not understand the back-end technology of the internet isn’t going to accomplish much for you.

Many attorneys and lawyers today use the internet. They use email and get the same spam messages that you do, and they worry about anti-spam laws. But do they understand how different aspects of the internet and the World Wide Web work? The answer is a resounding “no.” Very few of the older, more experienced lawyers have any experience in internet and technology representation.

“Learn to Address Both Sides of the Equation”.

-Enrico Schaefer

The essential thing that you need to understand as a client when looking at law firms or interviewing attorneys to identify who will help you with your internet-based client or problem is that you need to ask both sides of the equation. You need to ask your attorneys and prospective lawyers who you intend to hire; what will have to happen on the technology side to accomplish a result? And what are the legal issues at hand?

Domain Names & Trademarks

Let me give you a couple of examples. Let’s say that you are a small business or start-up company that is trying to secure a domain name that matches your trademark. There are many landing pages out there on domain names that are a good match for your trademark, and no one appears to be using those web pages. A common question you might have is, “If I go ahead and register my trademark, can I then go get that domain name?” Not necessarily. 

There are special statutes, policies, and arbitrations that exist to resolve trademark and domain name disputes. You’re going to need a lawyer who understands the law, how the domain name system works, and how the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy works. Your lawyer should be able to identify your options of securing an unused or a lander page domain name that will be the one you’re going to want to use to launch your business.

Internet Defamation & Copyright Infringement on the Internet 

Let’s say you’re a small business or internet start-up company and you’re looking for a lawyer because someone has defamed you on the internet. Let’s say you’ve been in business for about four years now, and you’re growing. Still, one of your competitors has posted a bogus customer review, alleging that you provide poor customer service and that you didn’t honor your warranties.

Suppose that has uploaded to a third-party website. In that case, you need an attorney who understands defamation law, how web hosts and website operators work, and what their typical policies are regarding removing third-party user-generated content that’s allegedly defamatory.

Let me give you another example. Let’s say you’re a friendly little e-commerce business doing, say, $10 million worth of revenue a year, and you’ve been growing very quickly. You’re selling ceiling fans online through various domain names and websites that your company has built over time. You do all your original artwork, and so all of the different graphics and photographs displaying the different ceiling fans that you have on your website are copyright-owned by you and your company. But your competitors or others start using those original pieces of artwork, those original photographs by your company to display product on eBay, Amazon, Buy.com, or on other e-commerce sites.

What are your options as a potential copyright owner to have those web pages removed, those accounts blocked by eBay and other vendors, and potentially having the photographs taken down? 

You’re going to need a copyright law attorney to help you out. But that copyright law attorney is going to have to understand the internet and online space. Otherwise, they will not know what results are achievable and who you can assert leverage against regarding copyright infringement.

Again, there are special statutes that deal with online copyright infringement and user-generated content. So, any good technology and internet lawyer will be able to help you with these types of things. 

What Is Your Attorney’s Internet Competency

So, when you go out and list all of your requirements for potential lawyers on Google, make sure you take a look at what that attorney’s technology and internet background are, in addition to the substantive area of law that may apply to your specific situation. 

My name is Internet Law Attorney Enrico Shaefer. We’ll see you next time.


You’ve been listening to Internet Law Radio. Whether you face a domain name, intellectual property, or a complex litigation issue, we have an Internet law attorney ready to answer your questions.

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