Interpretation & The Internet


Cameron Hutchison


VOL. XXVIII • Winter 2010 • NO. 2 (table of contents)

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28 John Marshall J. of Comp. & Info. Law 251


Twenty years after the advent of the Internet, the revolutionary nature of the technology can no longer be in doubt. In spite of the ‘differentness” of the Internet, courts have proven adept at adapting extant law to the features and demands of this new technology. This paper will chronicle the differences between the Internet and other technologies which might, depending on the legal issue, justify the exclusion of the Internet from established rules on the basis of analogical reasoning. Two approaches to legal interpretation – literalism and purposivism—will be discussed in light of this new technology, with an explanation as to why a purposive approach to legal interpretation is the best guard against inappropriate application of a rule to new technology. Finally, a new methodology to provide courts with a template for how to approach interpretation of the law and the Internet will be discussed. This methodology will then be illustrated within the context of SOCAN v. Canadian Association of Internet Providers.

Author Footnote:

Author Cameron Hutchison, Associate Professor, University of Alberta Faculty of Law. The author wishes to express his appreciation to the Foundation for Legal Research for a grant that helped to fund this research. The author would also like to thank Ian MacDougall for his research assistance.

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