Advantage ISP: Terms of Service as Media Law Academic Article uri icon


  • All users must access the internet through ISPs on the basis of contracts known as 'terms of service' or 'acceptable use policies' that are becoming de facto law for internet communications. This article examines contracts from over two dozen ISPs. Findings include a knowledge differential between users and ISPs regarding rules and their applications. Users have liability irrespective of intention, while ISPs do not. Users must license content to ISPs. And ISP agreements disregard constitutional standards regarding freedom of expression and privacy. Public forum analysis provides a legal foundation for seeking terms of service more protective of constitutionally-based civil liberties and intellectual property rights.

author list (cited authors)

  • Braman, S., & Roberts, S.

citation count

  • 26

publication date

  • September 2003