Computer Crime Law Sales Pitch:
Are you a law professor interested in criminal law or technology law, who is looking for a new course to teach and field to study? Or are you a lawyer with similar interests who wants to teach a class as an adjunct professor at a nearby law school, but who doesn't know exactly what the school's course needs are? Do you want to experience and teach the future of criminal law today?

  Well have I got a course for you! No, seriously. Sometime this fall, West Publishers will be publishing my bright shiny new casebook on Computer Crime Law. The book will be available for use in the Spring 2007 semester, and I wanted to let folks know about it now in case they have some interest in teaching it next spring. About 30 law schools have offered a course in computer crime law at some point, the majority taught by adjuncts (usually practicing prosecutors), and the introduction of the book should make it a lot easier to start teaching and writing in the field.

  Here's an overview of the book and its subject matter. The book is divided into three parts: substantive law, procedural law, and jurisdictional questions. The chapters on substantive law cover unauthorized access crimes, such as hacking and viruses, as well as traditional crimes often committed using computers, such as online theft, threats, copyright crimes, Internet gambling, obscenity, and child p0rnography offenses. The chapters on procedural law cover the Fourth Amendment and digital evidence, both in the stand-alone context and in the network context, as well as the statutory privacy laws that regulate Internet surveillance (the Wiretap Act, Stored Communications Act, and Pen Register statute). The chapters on jurisdiction consider federal limits on investigating and prosecuting computer crimes, state limits on the same, international computer crimes, international evidence gathering, cybercrime treaties, and the role of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Taken together, the materials offer a comprehensive look at the who, how, what and where of investigating and prosecuting computer-related crime.

  The book is largely traditional in approach; it is a casebook, and is anchored by judicial decisions. But wait-- there's more to it than that. The book is also partly a treatise that should be useful to practitioners. The notes and comments offer a comprehensive analysis of the law, designed not only to raise interesting questions but to explain existing law to the reader. It also has a number of problems designed to show how the issues fit together. Finally, I have also cited a large chunk of the academic scholarship in the area, so the book should also be a helpful resource for those looking to find interesting scholarly projects.

  Right now I expect the book to be out sometime this fall for use starting in the spring 2007 semester. If you're interested in teaching from the book next year, let me know and I'll see if I can get you a preview of a few key chapters before publication. Call now! Operators are standing by.
Adam B (mail) (www):
What is the current state of the law regarding fifth amendment protection for passwords to encrypted computers/documents?
2.7.2006 5:38pm
Cheburashka (mail):
Do you cover RIAA suit related issues? (i.e., ISP subpoenas)

Do you have an outline or detailed table of contents posted anywhere?

I could really use a good computer crime treatise.
2.7.2006 5:42pm

The RIAA lawsuits aren't covered directly, as they are civil suits rather than criminal prosecutions. I haven't posted an outline or the table of contents, but it's an interesting idea.

Adam B,

There is some scholarship on this, most of it almost a decade old, but there have been no cases on it.
2.7.2006 5:47pm
Kovarsky (mail):

The RIAA cases themselves are civil lawsuits, but there are criminal provisions in Title 17 for which the subpoena power would certainly be used against an ISP, no?
2.7.2006 6:03pm
Well I've been needing an authoritative resource for online gambling law....

Seriously, I have. About all I know is its a fairly gray area, especially when it comes down to real-life "will you actually ever get prosecuted for such things." How many pages does this topic get?

So, what's the quick answer? How likely am I to get in trouble for playing Poker on the internet? Does it matter if I'm using my public school internet connection to do it?
2.7.2006 6:08pm
David Matthews (mail):
Can anyone provide a link where I can download a copy for free -- maybe a newsgroup, maybe peer-to-peer?

2.7.2006 6:24pm

Internet gambling gets about 15-20 pages.


The book covers criminal copyright, and has a comprehensive chapter on the laws that criminal investigators must use to compel evidence from ISPs.

David Matthews:

Information most definitely does not want to be free. ;-)
2.7.2006 6:29pm
Tom Holsinger (mail):
Professor Kerr,

Does your book have a section on what civil practitioners should know about computer crime? There is a cross-over market here, especially for law students. I found my SEC Enforcement experience invaluable in practicing real estate and development law, notably due to what I learned concerning the law of civil conspiracy.
2.7.2006 6:50pm
Fishbane (mail):
Information most definitely does not want to be free.

It does, however, hate to be anthropomorphized.
2.7.2006 7:06pm
Splunge (mail):
Is there a discount for computer criminals? After all, without us -- oops, I mean them, of course -- the book would hardly sell.
2.7.2006 7:27pm
GMUSL 2L (mail):
I want to second what Erick is saying. He even plays in class sometimes, as do more than a few of our classmates. BAD ERICK!
2.7.2006 7:45pm
Richard Salgado (mail) (www):
I've had the pleasure of using a draft of this book to teach the course at Stanford and Georgetown.

(And no, Orin didn't pay me to say this.)
2.7.2006 7:49pm
Ohm (www):
Richard Salgado? Sounds like a pseudonym if I've ever heard one. Fess up Orin!

I've also used the casebook draft, as an adjunct at American and GW, and I'll use it again once it's officially in print.
2.7.2006 8:42pm
Congratulations on the publication of the book!

Will this book be of help to someone interested in the subject but has never been to law school?
2.7.2006 8:50pm
Wintermute (www):
Is there going to be a video game? 8-)

Better keep the sample exam questions zipped up tight; some hacker group might get after 'em.

Possible "answer" to 5th Amendment hope for passworded docs: "I forgot the password." LOL Hey, everyone's had that happen, right?

Rich, the check will be in the mail just as soon as "the other one" clears....
2.7.2006 8:50pm
Sounds like it might be of interest to computer geeks with a high-level amateur interest in the law, as well.
2.7.2006 10:21pm
Adam B:
Orin, thanks. As the author of one of those decade-old pieces of scholarship (1996 U Chicago Legal F 495), I was hoping I guessed right on the answer . . .
2.8.2006 5:18pm