Cyber Rights

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Cyber Rights: Defending Free speech in the Digital Age’ is a 1998 non-fiction book about cyberlaw, written by free speech lawyer Mike Godwin. Godwin graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 1990 and was the first staff counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Written with a first-person perspective, ‘Cyber Rights’ gives the reader a background in legal issues and history pertaining to free speech on the Internet.

It documents the author’s experiences in defending free speech online, and puts forth the thesis that ‘the remedy for the abuse of free speech is more speech.’ Godwin emphasizes that decisions made about the expression of ideas on the Internet have an impact on freedom of speech in other mediums of communication as well, as granted by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The author explains what is and is not considered libel, and goes over the extent to which copyrighted text may be quoted and used as fair use. Godwin explains his goal in having written ‘Cyber Rights’ is ‘to show that striking a balance in favor of individual rights has always been the right decision for us and that it remains so even when technology gives us new ways to exercise those rights. Individual liberty has never weakened us; freedom of speech, enhanced by the Net, will only make us stronger.’

He instructs the reader on how to become proficient in dealing with mainstream news media, writing, ‘Learn how to hack all the media. Then put that knowledge to good use.’ Subsequent chapters bring up possible challenges to broad free speech online, including: defamation, sexual harassment, copyright, and issues involving privacy.

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