As the internet is in the eyes of the legal world is a new thing (relatively speaking, although even for the non-techie people it is rapidly becoming part of normal life and taken for granted), the legal position of actions; particularly those that cross traditional frontiers are having legal presidents established and laws past. It can make things a little bit of a minefield for people; even for people who just browse – by visiting certain sites (even accidentally) could end up having you labelled as a potential terroist; what if I have a blog and express my opinions about a company which they don’t like? Is downloading from AllOfMP3.com legal or not (AllOfMP3 claim to be paying royalties in the US)? Why is that cd-wow has had to setup UK operations to sell into the UK, but BangCD does not?
To understand the legal implications of these things several organisations and associated websites have come about. Perhaps the most famous of these is the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation). Although the EFF provides some guidelines and battle to protect electronic rights, it is at the end of the day an american organisation and therefore looking at American law. for those of us in the UK, we’re probably best looking to Internet Rights organisation http://www.internetrights.org.uk/.
These organisations certainly make it easier to understand how the law effects us web users than trying to follow the establishement of legal presidents, not to mention trying to read papers as they’re read and pass into law.