|Module Title||COMPUTER LAW|
|Co-ordinator||Dr Diane Rowland|
|Other staff||Ms Elizabeth Macdonald|
|Course delivery||Seminar||2 Hours This course will involve a series of Postgraduate Seminars, lasting one and half hours to be held once a week throughout the semester. Students wil be given suggested reading in advance of each seminar and will also be provided with questions for discussion. Students may be required to work in groups or individually, both in preparation for and during the seminars and to make presentations to the rest of the seminar group.|
|Essay||Studdents have the option of one of the following: 1. 2 x 3000 word essays 2. 1 x 6000 word essay||80%|
Aims of the module
The use of computers has proliferated in the past few decades and has now become so widespread that we have come to rely
on their speed and efficiency in a wide variety of applications to such an extent that it would be almost impossible for modern
business to survive without them. The increased use of computer technology has generated a number of legal problems and this
module will analyse and assess the issues raised and the way in which the law has responded to this revolution. It is common
ground that the law lags behind technology but in relation to computer software this problem has been particularly acute. There
has been considerable debate as to whether software should be regarded as tangible or intangible property and, in addition,
the nature of software generates unique properties which are a function of its complexity. These issues are brought sharply into
focus in a study of the intellectual property rights in computer software as compared with the application of product liability
legislation to computer programs. The advent of computers has also made major differences to the way information is used and
handled and this in turn has had repercussions for the law both in relation to privacy and data protection and also to the
potential for abuse of computerised systems and networks by hacking, unauthorised access and dissemination of objectionable
or undesirable material.
The principal aim of this module is to provide students with an understanding of the emerging field of computer law. Students
will be encouraged to address the conceptual issues arising from the developing technology as well as considering the practical
problems of the use of computers for diverse and changing applications. Legal principles will be applied to contemporary and
novel legal problems created by advances in the relevant technology enabling students to formulate both theoretical and
1. Issues of tangibility
Is a contract to supply software a contract for goods or services? Is software a product under the Consumer Protection Act?
Can software suffer damage within the meaning of the Criminal Damage Act? Liability for defective software.
2. Intellectual Property Rights
Copyright - protection "as a literary work". EC software directive and its implementation into law of the Member States. Can
software be the subject matter of a patent? Sui generis rights; a comparison with the semiconductor chip regulations. Piracy
and software "theft".
3. Computer Contracts
Classification of computer contracts. Licensing. Sale. Services.
4. Computer Ethics
Established crimes committed with the aid of computers. New computer crimes -hacking and the Computer Misuse Act.
Crimes committed to computers. Privacy issues and data protection. Use of networked information - regulation of content,
libel, pornography etc.
Lloyd. Information Technology Law. 2nd. Butterworths 1997
Reed (ed). Computer Law. 3rd. Blackstones 1996
Loose-leaf Encyclopaedia of Information Law.
Rowland and Macdonald. Information Technology Law,. Cavendish 1997
Encyclopaedia of Data Protection.
Wealth of Useful Material available via the Internet.