Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal


Eric Schlachter


Aspects of computers, communications and the media are all present in computer bulletin board technology. Different legal models have been applied to each of these elements when they have been considered individually. The blend of these elements in computer bulletin boards makes it difficult to determine which legal model is appropriate. This Essay takes a holistic approach to the problem, predicated on the belief that any solution to which model is appropriate must retain some of the careful balancing that is part of existing models. The Essay first outlines the contours of the "cyberspace" industry, including the functions of computer bulletin boards. Rules that apply to the most commonly proposed legal models are then considered. These rules are then applied-to computer bulletin boards on a function-specific basis to craft a law of "cyberspace." Finally, the Essay argues that the combination of a free market, application of existing jurisprudence on a function-specific basis, and system operator choice regarding rights and responsibilities, can contribute to the free marketplace of ideas.