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Mr. Wolf Internet: When is a Web Page Creator Subject to a State's Jurisdiction?

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Creating and maintaining a Web page that is accessible from anywhere in the world poses new jurisdictional issues. In this 1999 article, Christopher Wolf, an attorney at a Washington D.C. law firm, explains the evolving law on jurisdiction on the Internet. The question is whether a court has personal jurisdiction of an individual just because the individual posts a Website. Mr. Wolf summarizes the law relating to that issue.

When is a Web Page Creator Subject to a State's Jurisdiction? Creating and maintaining a Web page that is accessible from anywhere in the world poses new jurisdictional issues. In this 1999 article, Christopher Wolf, an attorney at a Washington D.C. law firm, explains the evolving law on jurisdiction on the Internet. The question is whether a court has personal jurisdiction of an individual just because the individual posts a Website. Mr. Wolf summarizes the law relating to that issue.

Part 1 - After reading this article, select a Web site and analyze whether the Web site creator would be subject to jurisdiction in the examples given.

Part 2 - Look at Mr. Wolf's article entitled "Internet Jurisdiction." Read all sections of the article including the conclusion. Answer the following questions:

Why is personal jurisdiction an issue for those who post Websites?
What are some reasons that a website owner might be concerned with whether a court is able to obtain 'personal jurisdiction' over them?
What is normally required for a court to have personal jurisdiction?
When is a Court required to use long-arm jurisdiction?
Why is long arm jurisdiction an issue for those who create or post Web pages?
According to the Wolf article, the courts have imposed an "interactive-passive" test of jurisdiction. Explain that distinction.
According to the Wolf article, is advertising on the Web alone enough to confer personal jurisdiction?

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Solution Preview

Why is personal jurisdiction an issue for those who post Websites?

Most courts have applied an "interactive-passive" distinction when determining personal jurisdiction over someone operating a Web Site. A Web Site can be characterized as interactive if business transactions can be conducted over the Internet or if information can be exchanged with users for the purpose of soliciting business. The greater the commercial nature and level of interactivity associated with the Site, the more likely it is that the Web Site operator is "purposefully availing itself" of the forum state's jurisdiction. Courts have conferred personal jurisdiction in cases where "interactive" uses of the Internet have taken place within the state.

Supreme Court Denies Certiorari in Internet Jurisdiction Case http://www.techlawjournal.com/topstories/2003/20030428.asp
Passive vs. Active - http://www.cs.princeton.edu/courses/archive/spring05/cos491/writing/index.php?p=99

What are some reasons that a website owner might be concerned with whether a court is able to obtain 'personal jurisdiction' over them?

Courts have conferred personal jurisdiction in cases where "interactive" uses of the Internet have taken place within the state. Interactive contact encompasses two-way online communication which fosters an ongoing business relationship, while "passive" contacts are those that simply make information available to interested viewers. A Web Site can be characterized as interactive if business transactions can be conducted over the Internet or if information can be exchanged with users for the purpose of ...

Solution Summary

MS Word document - 4 Pages - 922 Words - 10+ References - Including: personal jurisdiction; Passive vs. Active; The Global Issue of Liability for Trademark Infringement; Venue and Jurisdiction; long-arm jurisdiction and interactive-passive.

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