Prerequisites: Introduction to legal methods or equivalent
Professor Andrew Murray
Dr Orla Lynskey
This course covers a selection of topics in the field of Information Technology and the Law (or Cyberlaw). It will begin by considering the debate about the nature of the influence of information technology upon the development of new legal doctrine, moving on to consider, through topics such as data protection and privacy, computer misuse (hacking and denial of service), copyright, network neutrality, criminal content liability and defamation, both how the law has responded to the challenges of information technologies, and the extent to which legal issues have shaped the development of information society policy.
The focus will be initially on English law, although the global nature of IT law means that there are strong EU, Commonwealth and US legal influences upon the English system, so comparative aspects will be introduced in places, and readings will include materials drawn from, amongst others, US law journals.
This course does not require an in-depth understanding of information technology – we are primarily interested in the implications of the use of information technology, and the intended and unintended consequences of regulating that use.
The course is divided into four modules as follows:
Introduction to Cyberlaw and Digitisation
How the information society functions and the role of law and lawyers in Cyberspace. Introducing cyber-regulation and cyber-regulatory theory.
Cyberproperty and Intellectual Property
Ownership and exploitation of digital products. Who owns computer software code, infringing software and piracy. Peer-to-Peer and copyright including the Pirate Bay, Napster and Newzbin cases. The operation of Google and copyright law.
Cyber-rights, Speech Harm, Crime and Control
Free expression as a right online. The rise of privacy injunctions and superinjunctions to protect privacy. Harmful speech including defamation, hate speech and online digital pornography. Computer misuse (hacking) and enforcing laws online.
The protection of trademarks including domain name disputes and search listings. Electronic contracting, electronic payments and taxation in the information society.
Murray: Information Technology Law: Law and Society, (2nd Edition) (Oxford University Press, Oxford 2013).
Lessig: Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace ver.2.0 (Basic Books, New York 2006).
Edwards & Waelde (eds): Law and the Internet (3rd Edition) (Hart, Oxford 2009).
Lectures: 36 hours Classes: 12 hours
Assessment: One two-hour examination and one essay to be completed at the end of week two.