Internet Law
by Tom W. Bell

Ch. 11: Jurisdiction


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Table of Contents

Ch.  Subject
01:  Course Management
02:  Introduction
03:  "Law" Online
04:  Free Speech
05:  Privacy
06:  Trespass to Chattels
07:  Intellectual Property
08:  Encryption
09:  Hacking
10:  Commerce
11:  Jurisdiction
12:  Lawyers Online
13:  Review

Panavision Int'l, L.P. v. Toeppen, 141 F.3d 1316 (9th Cir. 1998) (affirming exercise of personal jurisdiction over and summary judgment against cybersquatter) [one alternate source and another alternate source]

Blumenthal v. Drudge, 992 F. Supp. 44 (D.D.C. 1998) (denying motion to dismiss for want of personal jurisdiction) [an alternate source]

New York v. World Interactive Gaming Corp., 185 Misc. 2d 852, 714 N.Y.S.2d 844 (N.Y. County Sup. Ct. 1999) (finding jurisdiction over business offering Internet gambling to New York residents) [an alternate source]


  1. The court in Porsche Cars North America, Inc. v., 51 F. Supp. 2d 707 (E.D. Va. 1999), dismissed the complaint before it on grounds that the Federal Trademark Dilution Act does not permit in rem actions against allegedly diluting domain names.

  2. Subsequent to Porsche Cars North America, the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, codified in relevant part at 15 U.S.C. § 1125(d), came into effect, expressly allowing civil in rem actions against offending domain names.

  3. Although our readings focus on the scope of jurisdiction under U.S. law, it bears noting that the international reach of the Internet may encourage other countries' courts to claim jurisdiction over U.S. residents. Those countries' courts may, of course, have less respect for free speech than U.S. courts do. For an example of such a case, see Gutnick v. Dow Jones & Co. Inc., (Victoria S. Ct. August 28, 2001) (VSC 305) (asserting jurisdiction over U.S. publisher for allegedly defamatory article posted on server based in New Jersey). The court commented,
    To say that the country where the article is written, edited and uploaded and where the publisher does its business, must be the forum is an invitation to entrench the United States, the primary home of much of Internet publishing, as the forum. The applicant's argument that it would be unfair for the publisher to have to litigate in the multitude of jurisdictions in which its statements are downloaded and read, must be balanced against the world-wide inconvenience caused to litigants, from Outer Mongolia to the Outer Barcoo, frequently not of notable means, who would at enormous expense and inconvenience have to embark upon the formidable task of suing in the USA, with its different fee and costs structures and where the libel laws are, in many respects, tilted in favour of defendants, or, if you will, in favour of the constitutional free speech concepts and rights developed in the USA which originated in the liberal construction by the courts of the First Amendment.
    Id. at ¶ 72.

Useful Resources and Optional Reading

  • GTE New Media Services Inc. v. BellSouth Corp., 199 F.3d 1343 (D.C. Cir. 2000) (holding that mere existence of web site insufficient to establish personal jurisdiction) [alternate source]

  • Ford Motor Co. v. GreatDomains, Inc., 2001 E.D. WL 348986 (E.D. Mich. 2001) (disagreeing with Panavision court in finding that mere registration of domain names can, where "expressly aimed" at trademark owner, give rise to personal jurisdiction)

  • Dan L. Burk, Jurisdiction in a World Without Borders, 1 Va. J.L. & Tech. 3 (1997) (a seminal commentary on Internet jurisdiction issues)


Bell's Class 28: Please read the materials in Ch.11.

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(C) 2001-03 Tom W. Bell. All rights reserved. Fully attributed noncommercial use of this document permitted if accompanied by this paragraph. - v.2003.06.12