Three main objectives will be pursued namely to familiarise students with the debate surrounding the tangible and intangible nature of computer software, to assess critically the development of the law governing transactions in computer systems and software and the protection of the relevant intellectual property rights and to formulate alternative theoretical and practical solutions where appropriate. As a result, on completion of the module, students should be able to discuss the legal nature of software at the conceptual and definitional level and the classification of software as goods or services and be able to evaluate the factors influencing liability for defective software. They should be able to assess the development of the regime protecting intellectual property rights in software and related products such as databases and should be able to analyse the problems surrounding the supply of computer systems.
The procurement of computer systems and transactions involving software and related products continue to create legal challenges. This module introduces students to these challenges and requires legal principles to be applied to the contemporary and novel problems created by advances in the relevant technology with a view to formulating both theoretical and practical solutions. The purpose of the module is to provide students with the theoretical and practical background surrounding the continuing legal challenges arising out of transactions in computer systems and software and to enable informed criticism about the nature of the current legal solutions.
The contractual issues arising from the supply of software and systems:
1. The legal nature and classification of software. Goods or services?
2. Liability for defective software
3. Issues arising out of licensing
4. The problems surrounding the supply of computer systems
The development of the regime protection intellectual property rights in computer software and related products
5. Copyright and computer software. Protection as a literary work. The idea/expression dichotomy including a comparison of the situation in the US and the EU. Fair use and fair dealing applied to decompilation. The EC software directive and its implementation.
6. Patents and computer software. The situation under the European Patent Convention and that pertaining in other jurisdictions. The influence of the TRIPS agreement and the Community patent.
7. The advantages and disadvantages of sui generic rights. The protection of intellectual property rights in databases.
** Essential Reading
Rowland & Macdonald (2000) Information Technology Law
Lloyd (2000) Information Technology Law
Reed & Angel (2000) Computer Law
Lai (2000) The copyright protection of computer software
Sweet & Maxwell Encyclopedia of Information Technology Law
This module is at CQFW Level 7