Basic legal guide for personal page holders

What's related > Personal pages: conditions of use for LSE staff and students | Registering for personal web space | Personal pages | Best practice for web pages: summary

This is not comprehensive legal advice - and so should not be relied upon as though it were - but is designed to help those who wish to have a personal page within the website avoid the worst pitfalls. The main areas of potential legal concern are set out below; this is a new area so in many cases the law is unclear.

  1. General

    Please refer closely to the Policy Statement on the Use of Information Technology, and the Conditions of Use of IT Facilities at the LSE. These are also listed in the Undergraduate section of the Calendar and the Staff Handbook. Please also see the Code of Practice for the publishing of information on the LSE World Wide Web Server.

    These are the authoritative statements of the School's position and take precedence over this guidance note.

  2. Offensive or damaging material

    Avoid using or creating any material which may lead to criminal liability including pornographic material.

    No material should appear on your part of the Website which contravenes the School's policy that it 'does not tolerate racial or sexual harassment in any form whatsoever nor any discrimination on racial or ethnic grounds or on grounds of gender, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, political or religious beliefs'.

    It is important to be sure that the website material to be created will not damage another person's health eg through use of blinking text.

  3. Copyright

    Respect others' intellectual property. It is never safe to assume that an author has implicitly given permission for their work to be copied, for example to a class of students, even if it is on the web. You should be sure that the copyright holder has given permission and, where relevant, that the appropriate fees have been paid.

    You should also be vigilant for the possibility that the author themselves may have quoted other people's material. Such a third party would also need to give permission. If in doubt, leave it out.

    Similarly, others may exploit academic materials on the LSE website without authority. The School as well as some members of the academic staff could lose considerably if those who have not paid to be at LSE are able to download material. Use of a copyright mark © and a warning sentence requiring permission for copying or downloading for recirculation is necessary evidence that there was an intention to assert copyright.

    You should also be wary of publishing documents to the web eg transcripts, which you may wish to publish in hard copy at a later date. Publishers are likely to consider such material as having been already published.

    You may wish to restrict some material to users logged onto the School's network, or may wish to consider restriction to defined users; in either case the Web Services Team will advise.

  4. Licences

    Always check that any software you put onto your part of the website has the relevant licence permissions.

  5. Data protection

    No personal data* should be accessible through your part of the website. People emailing your part of the website for publications, for example, may create a data protection issue, because you have their personal data including their email address. If you are gathering details on individuals via forms with a view to holding that data eg for mailing lists, then you should include a message such as 'the supply of information in this form implies assent to your name/ details joining a private LSE mailing list or database'.

    * The Data Protection Act defines personal data as data which relate to a living individual who can be identified -
    (a) from those data; or
    (b) from those data and other information which is in the possession of, or is likely to come into the possession of, the data controller, and includes any expression of opinion about the individual and any indication of the intentions of the data controller or any other person in respect of the individual.

    The 1998 Data Protection Act was introduced to ensure compliance with an earlier EU Directive. It is implied that the other EU countries have Data Protection Acts similar to our own, and that they too satisfy the requirements of the EU Directive. Hence, the Act refers only to 'countries outside the EEA', and states that:

    'Personal data shall not be transferred to a country or territory outside the European Economic Area, unless that country or territory ensures an adequate level of protection for the rights and freedoms of data subjects in relation to the processing of personal data.'

    This means in practice that we have to notify to the Data Protection Registrar the names of the countries outside the EEA to which disclosure might be made - and it is left to us to determine that these countries have the 'adequate levels of protection' referred to above. Such countries are definitely not exempt from the provisions of the Act.

    The Data Controller is the person or organisation responsible for ensuring that the requirements of the Data Protection Act (DPA) are complied with. Dr Ian Stephenson is LSE's designated Data Controller, but the consensus of current opinion is that if breaches occur, it is the organisation that is liable.

    If in doubt consult the School's Data Controller, Ian Stephenson, Deputy Academic Registrar.

  6. Defamation

    Do not create material which might be defamatory. Broadly a defamatory statement is one which lowers the reputation of the person against whom it is directed, in the eyes of others.

  7. Commercial activities

    No work of a commercial nature may be carried out on individuals' pages using the LSE website because of JANET (The UK Academic and Research Network) rules.

  8. The School's name

    All material on the website should enhance and be consistent with the School's reputation. So the School's website should only be used for pages that are concerned with the School's work.

  9. If in doubt

    If in doubt please contact Stephen Emmott, Head of Web Services,; 020 7955 6939; room V204.

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