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Internet Law

While the laws protecting physical property are long established and reinforced by considerable numbers of court rulings, the laws governing virtual property and virtual behavior are less mature and constantly evolving. While one would think the same laws should protect both online and offline property, the reality is that most laws were written before the Internet and don’t directly address those things that are unique to it, like email, frames, social media, hyperlinks, or blogs. Since many existing laws do not specifically address the Internet, the application of the law (as it applies to the Internet) is open to much interpretation.

One example of a law to deal specifically with Internet abuse is Virginia’s so-called Anti-Spam Law.[98] This law is a response to the large amount of server resources consumed by servicing unwanted email. The law attacks spammers indirectly by declaring it a felony to falsify or forge email addresses in connection to unsolicited email. It also provides penalties of as much as $10.00 per unsolicited email or $25,000 per day. Laws like this one are required to address specific Internet-related concerns. Well-defined rules, like those imposed by Virginia’s Anti-Spam Law, are frequently difficult to derive from existing statutes. And while it may be possible to prosecute a spammer with laws drafted before the popularity of the Internet, less is open to the court’s interpretation when the law deals specifically with the offense.


  

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