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Law for Computing Students

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Language:  English
Anyone hoping for an IT career needs to know something of how the IT industry is affected by the law.
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Anyone hoping for an IT career needs to know something of how the IT industry is affected by the law. This textbook gives computing students the basic essentials. In a fast-moving field, it shows not only what the law now is but which directions it is evolving in. After a brief survey of how English law works, chapter topics include IT contracts, copyright and patents, data protection and freedom of information, web law, and others. Frequent reference to real-life law cases creates a level of human interest which helps readers assimilate the underlying principles.

So why do computing students need to know anything about law, beyond – just like anyone else – how to keep themselves out of trouble with the police?

Well, most students who take a degree in computing (computer science, information systems, “informatics”, or similar) aim to find a computing-related job in a company or a public-sector organization. And that job will not involve just sitting in a back room hacking code. Jobs like that mostly disappeared with the twentieth century, and those that remain have largely been offshored to countries like India. Jobs for British computing graduates in the 21st century involve using technical knowledge to help a business to flourish; they are about business savvy as much as about bits and bytes. (This includes public-sector jobs; public-sector organizations do not make profits, but they run “businesses” as commercial companies do.) A crucial factor for successful business is an understanding of the broad legal framework within which business operates; computing graduates need to be aware in particular of how law impinges on information technology.

  1. Introduction 
    1. The purpose of this book 
    2. Law can be vague 
    3. Geographical perspective 
    4. Further reading 
  2. The nature of English law 
    1. Different jurisdictions 
    2. Is IT law special? 
    3. The nature of the adversaries 
    4. Sources of law 
    5. Bases of legal authority 
  3. Faulty supplies 
    1. Breach of contract vtort 
    2. IT contracts 
    3. Letters of intent 
    4. Service level agreements 
    5. Cloud computing 
    6. Interpretation of contracts 
    7. Torts 
    8. The rise of artificial intelligence 
  4. Intellectual property 
    1. The growing importance of intangible assets 
    2. Copyright and patent 
    3. Do we need intellectual-property laws? 
    4. Copyright for software 
    5. Two software-copyright cases 
    6. Databases 
    7. The focus shifts from copyright to patent 
    8. The nature of patent law 
    9. Is software patentable? 
    10. Some software-patent cases 
    11. The American position 
    12. An unstable situation 
    13. Intellectual property in Web content 
  5. Law and rapid technical change: a case study 
    1. Film versus video 
    2. The Attorney General seeks a ruling 
    3. Porn meets the internet 
    4. Are downloads publications? 
    5. Censoring videos 
    6. RvFellows and Arnold 
    7. Allowing downloads is “showing” 
    8. What is a copy of a photograph? 
    9. Uncertainties remain 
    10. The wider implications 
  6. Personal data rights 
    1. Data protection and freedom of information 
    2. The Freedom of Information Act 
    3. Limiting the burden 
    4. Implications for the private sector 
    5. Government recalcitrance 
    6. Attitudes to privacy 
    7. Is there a right to privacy in Britain? 
    8. The history of data protection 
    9. The Data Protection Act in outline 
    10. The Bodil Lindqvist case 
    11. Strength through vagueness 
    12. The Data Protection Act in more detail 
    13. The right to be forgotten 
    14. Is the law already outdated? 
    15. Is data protection law workable? 
  7. Web law 
    1. Changing social attitudes to internet firms 
    2. The internet and contract 
    3. The right to link 
    4. Trademarks and domain names 
    5. Web ., defamation, and “hate speech” 
  8. Regulatory compliance 
    1. Is soft law damaging? 
    2. A medium of regulation 
    3. Sarbanes-Oxley and after 
    4. Accessibility 
    5. E-discovery 
    6. Punished for misfortune? 
    7. Conclusion 
About the Author

Geoffrey Sampson