Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Cyberspace Definition:

Synonymous with Internet; a decentralised but interconnected body of data and self-maintained telecommunications network.

Related Terms: Internet, World Wide Web

The High Court of Australia, under the penmanship of Justice Michael Kirby wrote, in Gutnick v. Dow Jones, ¶80-83:

"The Internet is essentially a decentralised, self-maintained telecommunications network. It is made up of inter-linking small networks from all parts of the world. It is ubiquitous, borderless, global and ambient in its nature. Hence the term cyberspace. This is a word that recognises that the interrelationships created by the Internet exist outside conventional geographic boundaries and comprise a single interconnected body of data, potentially amounting to a single body of knowledge. The Internet is accessible in virtually all places on Earth where access can be obtained either by wire connection or by wireless (including satellite) links. Effectively, the only constraint on access to the Internet is possession of the means of securing connection to a telecommunications system and possession of the basic hardware.

"The World Wide Web ... is a forum consisting of millions of individual sites. Each site contains information provided by, or to, the creator of that site. When a publisher of information and opinion wishes to make its content available on the Web, it commonly does so by creating a website and posting information to that site. Such a website is a collection of electronic messages maintained on a type of computer known as web server. Typically, this is controlled either by the publisher concerned or by a third party contracted by the publisher to provide web hosting services.

"An Internet user may access the information maintained on a website provided the user knows, or can ascertain, the Internet address of the relevant website. By entering that address into the user’s web browser, the user will be directed to that website. Once the user locates the website in this way, the user may be required to take additional steps to access information stored on the web server associated with the website. Thus, to post an article to a website, a publisher must prepare a version in digital (computer readable) format. Such an article becomes part of the digital collection of data known as a web page. Such a web page is transmitted to a web server. It, along with the other web pages, comprises the website.

"By posting information on a website, the publisher makes the content available to anyone, anywhere, having access to the Web. However, accessibility will depend on whether there is open access (under which any web user can access the site); subscription access (under which only web users who register, and commonly pay, for the service can secure access); combination access (where only a portion of a site may be accessed after registration and/or payment of a fee) and restricted access (access limited to specified users authorised by the website operator to view the website, eg employees of a particular company)."

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