Call#: Van Pelt Library HM851 .G65 2006
Despite the predictions that the Internet would be tool of consensus for the world’s countries, applicable law continue to vary from nation to nation, luckily without impeding the growth of the Internet. Internet traffic, specifically ecommerce and media continue to thrive despite the application of local laws (148). Content providers have adapted to the wants and needs of local users across a variety of cultures and continents (149). There is no concept of universal free speech on the internet – what one country may consider as blasphemy might be the most treasured item of another country (150).
More relevantly, Goldsmith and Wu discuss how a court ruling in one country can be enforced in and intersect with the laws of another country. Using the example of Gutnick v. Dow Jones, in which business man Joseph Gutnick sued Baron’s online magazine, a subsidiary of Dow Jones, for defamation in an Australian court, the authors demonstrate that local law can coexist with the international scope of the Internet. While Gutnick won its defamation lawsuit against Dow Jones in Australia, it did not stop Dow Jones from continuing to have an Internet presence. The decision is not unlike any other decision that impacts a “multinational” business (157). Large corporations that have financial interests across the world like Dow Jones, Google and Yahoo! must be ready to defend their online content and business against the laws of any jurisdiction.
The Internet is not free of regulation just because it does not have the physical tentacles that other aspects of multinational companies do. For example, by operating Google.be and Google.fr, Google has a financial interest and presence in Belgium and France. They must be prepared to either pull their content out of those countries or comply with the laws of these jurisdictions, even if it undermines principles of American law. It is simply the cost of doing business. Smaller companies who have an Internet presence that may reach these same countries but who have no financial assets there will be in a different situation. They will need only to comply with the law of the country where their assets and physical presence can be found. Thus, the copyright law that applies on the Internet is not likely to be uniform but is more likely to reflect the public policies and interests of the local jurisdiction deciding the copyright question.