The estimable Jessica Litman, one of my personal heroes, has compiled this set of links to freely accessible online syllabi for computer and internet law courses at more than thirty law schools. For newbie cyberprofs such as myself, this is truly a gold mine. In the coming months, I’ll have to begin working on the syllabus for my own Computer Law course to be taught here at Cincinnati in the fall of 2007. I’ll likely borrow quite a bit of the format, and some of the substantive materials, from the cyberlaw course Derek and I co-taught last spring (based on a Berkman-derived curriculum that has been taught at Harvard for several years now); but I’ll certainly be perusing the materials linked from Professor Litman’s list for good ideas (of which, I can already see, there are many).
Professor Litman’s posting laments the fact that more and more schools are hiding their syllabi and course materials behind proprietary software walls. I agree that there’s no particularly compelling reason to do this, and that it’s particularly out-of-place when teaching internet law. Open standards are ultimately what give the net its “generative” capacity, and fidelity to the university’s public service mission commands us to embrace, rather than retreat from, that openness.
(To blow my own school’s horn just for a moment, Cincinnati seems to be doing a better job than most at making course syllabi and materials freely accessible online. Syllabi and supplemental course materials for many of the classes scheduled to be taught this fall are available here, including my Intro to Intellectual Property course. They are mostly in PDF format, which perhaps isn’t ideal, but they are all freely available to browse and download. I will take it as a sign of true progress when I am able to teach an entire course using only materials freely available online, perhaps via Wikipedia. The current state of the Wikiversity School of Law page suggests that that future is a long time off, but I’m quite confident it will ultimately arrive.)