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Stanford puts Net policies to the test

The university's law school is launching a new e-commerce center that will focus on policy and legal issues that affect online businesses.

    Stanford Law School is launching a new e-commerce center that will focus on policy and legal issues that affect online businesses.

    The new Center for E-Commerce, announced Tuesday, will be an interdisciplinary project that will try to help lawyers, business people and the general public shape policy and grapple with legal questions presented by the Internet. The center will host conferences and speaking engagements where people can hash out issues including Internet jurisdiction, intellectual property and the legal fallout of the dot-com bust.

    The rapid proliferation of online businesses over the past few years has posed a host of new legal and policy questions. Companies and their attorneys were forced to wrestle with issues such as privacy, domain name disputes and online anonymity--often in real time.

    Now that the dot-com bubble has burst, many legal scholars are looking back at the era and trying to lay down thoughtful guidelines for the future, especially as the Internet becomes a routine part of commerce. The organizers of the center are hoping to draw on the expertise of existing faculty members and those on the front lines.

    "The goal is to bring together not just academics, but also business leaders and lawyers from major law firms and leading companies to analyze not only what the state of e-commerce law is today but what it should be in the future," said Ian Ballon, the center's executive director and head of the Internet and e-commerce practice group at the law firm of Manatt Phelps & Phelps. "It's very future-oriented."

    The center's first conference, "Burst of the Bubble: Lessons and Opportunities from the Dot-Com Collapse," will take place Oct. 23.