About the Cyberlaw Clinic

Harvard Law School‘s Cyberlaw Clinic, based at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, provides high-quality, pro-bono legal services to appropriate clients on issues relating to the Internet, technology, and intellectual property. Students enhance their preparation for high-tech practice and earn course credit by working on real-world litigation, client counseling, advocacy, and transactional / licensing projects and cases. The Clinic strives to help clients achieve success in their activities online, mindful of (and in response to) existing law. The Clinic also works with clients to shape the law’s development through policy and advocacy efforts. The Cyberlaw Clinic was the first of its kind, and it continues its tradition of innovation in its areas of practice. The Clinic works independently, with law students supervised by experienced and licensed attorneys.  In some cases, the Clinic collaborates with counsel throughout the country to take advantage of regional or substantive legal expertise.

From the Blog

2014 Cyberlaw Clinic Year in Review

2014 ImageOverview

The Cyberlaw Clinic began in 1999, with the Berkman Center for Internet & Society’s announcement of a new “Clinical Research Program.” As the program heads into its sixteenth year, we at the Clinic have the opportunity to reflect on the events of 2014­. From student work and public events, to changes among the Clinic staff, to new modes of teaching and updates to structure of the program itself, we wanted to share some highlights of the past calendar year as we look ahead to the rest of 2015.

Protecting Anonymous Speech Under California’s Anti-SLAPP Law

WinelandThomsonamicuslettercoverOn Friday the Cyberlaw Clinic filed an amicus letter (PDF) on behalf of Global Voices Advocacy and the Media Legal Defence Initiative on an important case concerning anti-SLAPP law in California, currently being petitioned for review by the Supreme Court of California. Anti-SLAPP laws exist in numerous states to protect those speaking in government proceedings or on matters of public concern from facing frivilous lawsuits designed to dissuade them from speaking out. (“SLAPP” is an acronym for “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.”) In order to quickly remove vexatious lawsuits while allowing valid claims to go through, courts considering an anti-SLAPP motion require plaintiffs to show that a lawsuit has merit before before allowing the litigation go forward. Under California’s anti-SLAPP law, this means the plaintiff must state and substantiate all elements of their claim if they want to proceed. When a lawsuit is based on a claim of defamation, this includes proving that the speaker acted with fault, either with negligence or “actual malice.”

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US v. Auernheimer

US v. AUERNHEIMER | No. 13-1816 | 3d Cir. July 8, 2013 | The Cyberlaw Clinic filed this amicus curiae brief on behalf of the Digital Media Law Project, in support of defendant-appellant Andrew Auernheimer, arguing that Auernheimer’s conviction for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act should be overturned.  The charge against Auernheimer was escalated based on his alleged disclosure of information to a news website, thus violating the New Jersey computer intrusion statute.  By relying upon the New Jersey statute as a predicate offense, the brief argues, the court below punished Mr. Auernheimer for engaging in speech protected by the First Amendment.  As noted in the brief, “the First Amendment bars the escalation of penalties for the publication of true and newsworthy information under any circumstance that does not fall into any existing exception to First Amendment protection,” and “absent satisfaction of First Amendment scrutiny, the escalation applied in this case is unconstitutional.”