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  • 13 Community and Environment
  • The internet and the law
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In this chapter Expand current chapter list below

The internet and the law

This chapter explains how the law addresses a person’s use of the internet, how copyright and the internet works alongside detailing consumer issues related to online shopping such as, purchasing goods from overseas and within Australia, defamation, making complaints and contacts and resources.


We would like to thank John Leung, barrister for contributing this chapter through the Fitzroy Law Handbook Online. A particular thanks to the Fitzroy Legal Service for permission to reproduce this chapter here.


This chapter covers the most common legal issues that affect users of the internet, such as: copyright; defamation; harassment and stalking; privacy infringement; consumer protection. Key terms Term Abbreviation Meaning internet service provider ISP A company t...

Copyright Issues

Website design Various components of a website can be protected by copyright: the design and layout, the text, images, video and sound, and the underlying source code. To maintain control over the future development and operation of a website, rights should be obtained from the website develo...

Copyright issues: images and music sharing

Scanning and uploading images Scanning an image to create a digital version constitutes making a reproduction. Uploading the digital image to a website or emailing it constitutes communicating the image. Reproducing and communicating a copyright-protected work are specific rights of the copyrigh...

Defamation Issues

What is defamation? ‘Defamation’ means to damage another person’s reputation by publishing or communicating false statements about them. A publication does not need to be ‘public’ to be defamatory. An email sent to a restricted group of people (or even sent to a single person) can be defamato...

Other Protection Issues

As well as intellectual property and defamation, other issues regarding online activities can affect legal rights. If we think of the internet as a community of people who do not meet face to face, but communicate through the written and digital media, we can see that many of the same issues that...

E-Commerce: Online Shopping

There are no laws in Australia that specifically deal with online shopping. Legally the same requirements exist whether the purchase is conducted over the internet or offline (e.g. shopping at a retail outlet). Therefore, when you buy goods or services over the internet from an Australian trader,...

Purchasing from Overseas

Consumer Protection Laws When you buy a good or service over the internet from an overseas trader, it can be uncertain whether Australian consumer protection laws apply or whether an Australian court has any jurisdiction. The ACL applies to overseas traders carrying on business in Australia, but...

Managing Access to Internet Content

Many people are concerned about children encountering inappropriate material on the internet. This section outlines how internet material is regulated in Australia, how children can be kept safe, and where to find more information. Australia's internet content regulation scheme Australia's sche...

Complaints to the eSafety Commissioner

How to Make a Complaint Complaints to the Australian eSafety Commissioner must be in writing and must include the following details: your name and contact details; internet address of the content and any other details required to access it (e.g. a password); description of the interne...

Contact and Resources

National Australian Domain Administrator (auDA) Tel: 1300 732 929 Web: auDA is a not-for-profit Australian company that is responsible for formulating and administering policy in relation to Australian domain names. Australian eSafety Commissioner Tel: 1800 880 176 Emai...

Page last updated 20/09/2021

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