Internet Choice of Law Governance

China Private International Law Forum, 2012

Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 2012-20

25 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2012 Last revised: 7 Jun 2012

See all articles by Laura E. Little

Laura E. Little

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

Date Written: April 23, 2012


As society and legal institutions have become more accustomed to internet communications and transactions, some legal thinkers urge that existing approaches to governance developed outside the internet context are well suited for resolving internet choice of law issues. In this essay, Professor Little argues against this position, observing that internet disputes continue to pose unique choice of law problems and to call for special focus on developing appropriate governance rules. Professor Little finds evidence of this need for special focus in several phenomena, including: (1) the continuing tendency of courts to pursue unilateral decision-making despite multi-jurisdictional interests or global effects of internet disputes; and (2) the legal and cultural clashes that arise in disputes implicating freedom of expression. The internet plays a crucial role in developing new cultural and creative forms, such as fan fiction, mashups, scanlations, and various forms of humor. This raises the stakes of identifying appropriate regulatory forms for internet communication. Special study of internet choice of law problems has the potential to provide the United States with insight into other countries’ methods of crediting human dignity in regulating hate speech and defamation as well as to create greater understanding among nations.

Keywords: choice of law, conflict of law, internet, libel tourism, first amendment, choice of law methodology, cyberspace, free expression, international conflict of laws, private international law

JEL Classification: K41, K42, K49

Suggested Citation

Little, Laura E., Internet Choice of Law Governance (April 23, 2012). China Private International Law Forum, 2012, Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 2012-20, Available at SSRN:

Laura E. Little (Contact Author)

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )

1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States
215-204-8955 (Phone)
215-204-1185 (Fax)

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