A half-dozen students gasped upon hearing the 550-page length of the Internet Law Casebook. (Actually it is 524 pages, plus 23 pages of course overview, syllabus, assignments, and other good stuff.) I heard more groans today when they picked up hard copies of the book. The good news? The books–photocopies of my work-in-process draft–cost $22.58 each. Cost per word, it’s the best deal around.
The Casebook has defined the start of the 2009-2010 academic year. I rebuilt the Internet law course this summer, throwing out everything and starting from the ground up. Five weeks ago I began revising the existing Casebook, a raggedy draft with chapters for about half the course. As I wrote introductions and case transitions for the first chapters, a standard began to develop, a level of detail that established a minimum for succeeding chapters. What I thought would take seven-ten days stretched into three weeks, four weeks, five weeks. I blew past the deadline for submitting it to the school’s copy center in early August. I missed completing it before classes began on September 3. I worked all of Labor Day weekend. After completing the chapter on sharing digital media I turned to the chapter on the DMCA. First, though, I checked the calendar. The finished chapters filled the scheduled class sessions. I was done!
More than done is more likely. I was very conscious of each chapter’s length and kept reading assignments under 25 pages (except a few). I am aware, acutely so, that the reading will challenge most students, particularly in the first month as they climb the learning curve. This is a law school course in an undergraduate program. I want to push my students without losing them. I think the materials strike the right balance. Most of the cases have a good hook, factual, legal, or both, to hold their interest. The first run through this iteration of the Casebook will test how well I’ve gauged their response. This is as good a group of students as I could hope to find the answers.