Preface: About open textbooks and how you can help

This unit focuses on how societies can and should regulate the internet. It is not a survey of all the ways that law intersects with the internet (not 'law and the internet') - nearly all areas of law can have some application online. Instead, we focus on four key themes:

  1. What role does law actually play in regulating online behaviour? We explore the unique challenges that emerging technologies pose for the enforcement of law online. This requires us to think about what different strategies policy-makers might adopt to ensure that legal regulation can be effective.
  2. How does the law regulate intermediaries? Regulating the behaviour of individual users online can be extremely difficult. We study how the law can regulate by imposing obligations on private intermediaries - the organisations that facilitate communication online. These are the focal points of the internet - points where regulatory pressure can be leveraged for maximum effect.
  3. What laws are explicitly designed to regulate online content or behaviour? We identify and study regimes that have developed over the last two decades to regulate the internet. This includes computer crimes, privacy law, and other sui generis regimes like prohibitions on SPAM or regulation of the Domain Name System.
  4. Finally, we also consider how the law operates to constrain private power and protect human rights online. We look at how the law can protect freedom of speech as well as other rights – including privacy and the right to be free from abuse – that are often conflicting. We also study emerging issues like mass surveillance regimes and multinational take-down regimes that have been put in place in attempts to regulate online behaviour.

Society is still struggling to come to terms with the changes brought about by new communications technologies. Law in this area is extremely fluid and always developing very rapidly. This means that lawyers working in this area need to know not just the law as it currently exists, but the underlying policy justifications for those rules and why they may or should change. This unit will develop your capabilities in both areas. It is designed to be a useful unit for practitioners working in technology law, as well as people interested in working in public policy or advocacy roles.

The textbook market is flawed - students are paying too much, and do not have choice in the books they buy. We are creating a set of open educational resources that are free for the world to use.

How to contribute

We would love your help writing this book!

If you have any questions, please contact Nic at

Licence grant: The main condition of participating is that you must agree to license any of your contributions under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike licence. This enables any person to copy, modify, and distribute this book (including commercially). Importantly, however, it will always be ‘open’: anyone who distributes material based on this book must do so under the same licence.

What can I do? We have provided an outline structure. Here’s a few ways you can participate - feel free to do any of the following:

Guiding principles

This book is designed to be:

  • easy to understand; we use simple, clear language.
  • concise: we aim to keep this book short and to the point.
  • practical: we provide examples and context to make this applicable.
  • rich: we integrate free videos, quizzes, and other materials into this book to make it a complete research for learning Australian Intellectual Property law.


Please add your details below so that we can properly acknowledge your work.

This work includes material by:

  • Nicolas Suzor (QUT)
  • Kylie Pappalardo (QUT)
  • Rita Matulionyte (Newcastle)
  • Angela Daly (QUT/Chinese University of Hong Kong)
  • Alice Chalk
  • Wikipedia (CC BY-SA)

More information

For more information, contact Nic Suzor <nic at suzor dot net>.

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