Candidates selecting this qualification undertake a unique opportunity - to study the legal implications surrounding Information Technology and Telecommunications on the world's longest established postgraduate masters (LLM) course in Information Technology Law.
Provided at the University of Strathclyde since 1991 on a full or part-time attendance basis, and by online distance learning since 1994, the LLM and Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip) in Information Technology and Telecommunications Law is an internationally renowned postgraduate qualification which currently attracts over 100 students from 20 countries.
As the international nature of the student body demonstrates, Information Technology and Telecommunications law is of wide interest and significant importance. The master’s degree in Information Technology Law encourages students to consider legal initiatives both at European and International levels as well as within their own jurisdictions.
Students examine a diverse range of key themes including information security, privacy, intellectual property, telecommunications, e-commerce, internet governance and access to public information. These may be undertaken by attendance at The Law School on the University of Strathclyde’s campus, or by internet based distance learning.
Whether for academic, personal or professional development, the LLM/PgDip in Information Technology and Telecommunications Law is an ideal choice for law graduates, lawyers and IT specialists seeking to equip themselves with the skills and knowledge to formulate and apply law in the information society.
There are 3 potential exit points from the course, certificate, diploma and masters. Assuming satisfactory performance, it is possible to change between these so that, for example, a student who initially registers for the certificate may opt to continue studying to the diploma or masters qualification. Likewise, a student originally registered for the masters may be transferred to the certificate or diploma stream.
Full-time LLM and PgDip students are required to complete four modules from those listed – two modules per semester. For those candidates seeking the award of LLM in Information Technology and Telecommunications Law, a 20 000 word dissertation on a topic of your own choice is required. Distance learning students are also required to complete four modules, taking one module per semester. A flexible two-module Postgraduate Certificate (PgCert) is also available.
Teaching takes place over two twelve week semesters. Semester one runs from October - December and semester two from February - May. Course assignments are submitted during January and June. The period from June to September, especially in year two, is utilised for preparation of the dissertation.
This section contains useful information for candidates considering undertaking the LLM by online distance learning.
How is the Work Structured?
Each online class is divided into four study themes with each theme lasting approximately three weeks. For each study theme you are required to:
* Download and read the 'on-line' notes
* Follow the news in the on-line journals/Quick Links section with a view to finding a story to comment on in the class mailing list
* Follow URL Links given in the notes
At the end of each theme, you will be required to submit a written report, and evidence of your research on a specified topic.
How is the Work Paced?
To a certain extent, this is your choice. At the end of each module theme you are required to submit a report and evidence of research. How you cover the necessary work within the three weeks allotted to each report is up to you, and will depend on your other time commitments and lifestyle. At least five hours per week are required.
Discussion Forum and Blog
Each class has its own discussion forum and blog to which students are encouraged to contribute.
How Are My Studies Supported?
Each student is allocated an online personal tutor who will provide feedback on written work. Tutors are responsible for no more than twelve students. In general, students are encouraged to post and respond to comments in the general class mailing lists. You should contact your tutor regarding specific queries or problems, or if you have any difficulties that are likely to prevent you completing a theme on time. You may also contact a member of the teaching staff on matters of urgency. We try to respond to such e-mail within 12 hours.
Resources Available on the LLM Website
* Lecture Notes with on-line links to relevant reading
* Database of Information Technology Law URLs with search engine
* Discussion Lists
* Students' Home Pages
* A link to the Butterworths site. This site contains links to the cases and statutes discussed during the course.
* Internet Access
* E-mail Address
* Word Processor (MS Word compatible)
The teaching team reflects the international nature and diversity of the subject itself, drawing on the combined expertise within the University of Strathclyde's Law School as well as institutions and professional organisations throughout Europe and internationally. Teaching staff are actively engaged in research in the field of information technology and telecommunications law and between them have an unrivalled range of experience in the field.
Ian is Professor of Information Technology Law. He is the author of Information Technology Law and the Data Protection Act (both Butterworths), joint author with Moira Simpson of Law on the Electronic Frontier (Edinburgh University Press) and managing editor of the International Journal of Law and Information Technology (Oxford University Press). He is a Council Member of the Society for Computers and Law and of the Centre for Software Reliability. Ian is also a member of the European Commission’s Legal Advisory Board on the Information Market.
Moira came to Strathclyde as a research assistant to an EU funded project on software reliability and then became a Lecturer in Information Technology Law and Legal Informatics. She is the joint author of Law on the Electronic Frontier and electronic editor of the International Journal of Law and Information Technology. Moira is responsible for web development for the LLM Distance Learning degree Course.
Richard has been a Visiting Professor in the Centre for Law, Computers and Technology since 1990. He is one of the world’s leading experts on the use of Information Technology by lawyers and is currently an independent adviser both in Government and for large private sector firms, companies and corporate legal departments. He lectures and consults internationally. In 1998, he was appointed Information Technology Adviser to the Lord Chief Justice. He was Information Technology Adviser to Lord Woolf in his Review of the Civil Justice System from 1995-1996 and was a member of the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) Review Team from 1996-1997. Richard has written four books on law and Information Technology , the most recent of which (The Future of Law, originally published by Oxford University Press in 1996) is one of the best-selling legal books in the UK and appeared in revised paperback form in April 1998.
Author of Modern Intellectual Property Law, (Cavendish Publishing, 2005) along with a series of articles and case notes on Intellectual Property. She is also involved with the development of the JISC Legal Information Service for higher education provided from the University of Strathclyde. Her research interests include domain names and their relation to trade marks, copyright on the Internet, and electronic commerce.
After graduating from the Aristoteles University of Thessaloniki, Greece, Konstantinos Komaitis pursued an LLM in European, Commercial and International Law at the University of Sheffield, before embarking upon the LLM in Information Technology and Telecommunications Law at Strathclyde University. Upon completion, Konstantinos commenced PhD research in electronic commerce and intellectual property with particular specialisation in domain name regulation. Joining the teaching team in October 2005, Konstantinos interests include domain names and their relationship with trademarks, Internet Governance issues and Intellectual property and competition. He publishes on domain name regulation and Internet Governance, and attends conferences around the world.
Mathias is a Lecturer at Göteborg University, Department of Informatics.
Ray is Chief Executive Officer of London Resolve Consult, an international conflict resolution management firm.
Jeremy was formerly a Senior Solicitor in private practice, specialising in advising on data protection law, e-commerce, software licensing and development, intellectual property rights and telecommunications issues.
Susan is a Doctoral Research Fellow at the Norwegian Research Center for Computers and Law, University of Oslo.
Course modules, with an outline of their key themes are provided below. Please note that owing to the changing nature of the subject area the contents of modules may be adjusted to keep abreast with legal developments.
Legal Aspects of Information Security
Surveillance, Technology and Privacy
This theme is concerned with a range of issues fundamental to the shape of the information society. The capacity of the computer to store, process and disseminate vast amounts of data creates the potential for a surveillance society.
Concerns at the impact of data processing on individual privacy have prompted a variety of legislative responses. Within Western Europe, a significant role has been played by data protection statutes now based on the European Data Protection Directive which typically lay down rules for lawful data processing and establish supervisory agencies to monitor compliance with these. Recent telecommunications and privacy concerns have also spawned regulations across Europe which complement these rules. The impact of these statutes extends beyond national boundaries with certain exceptions and prohibits data transfers to countries whose domestic laws do not comply with the European model. These statues also face new and dynamic challenges in today's global information society.
Legal Controls over Encryption
With the increasing numbers and sophistication of computer networks, attention is being given to the need to ensure that data is adequately protected. One form of security involves encrypting data so as to make its contents illegible to unauthorised parties. Use of encryption is not without its own controversies with law enforcement agencies raising concerns at the value of such techniques to criminals and terrorists.
A computer virus may corrupt data held on a computer so as to render it valueless. Similar results can be produced by the direct manipulation of the computer or by more basic techniques such as the use of a powerful magnet. In all such cases, the physical elements of the computer system will be unaffected. Where damage is caused through the dissemination of a computer virus, issues to be considered include the attribution of responsibility between the party who developed a virus and the party responsible for introducing it to a particular computer system.
Liability in the Information Society (Distance Learning only)
Software - Product or Service?
Although the computer is more than 50 years old, the legal status of its controlling software remains unclear. The answer to the question whether software is to be regarded as a product or a service may have important legal consequences.
Issues of Contract Liability
A considerable number of contractual disputes have reached the courts. The theme will examine leading authorities. These are important from two aspects. First, light is cast on some of the issues of status and liability discussed in the first theme. Second and more positively, most cases have reached the courts because of flaws in the contracting process. By identifying pitfalls, students will be equipped to advise on more appropriate contractual techniques.
With the increasing use of software in safety and mission-critical products, there is the prospect that third parties may suffer injury or damage in the event of any malfunction. Once again, consideration of liability issues will involve determining whether software can be regarded as a product. The topic of negligence will also be relevant and require consideration of what standard of performance can reasonably be expected from a software developer.
Liability for Defective Information
In our Information Society great reliance is placed on electronically processed and presented information. Increasing attention is being paid to the legal consequences which may arise in the situation where information is inaccurate. This may arise in a number of situations. Reliance may be placed on the advice given by an expert system. Also relevant is the topic of defamation. The ease with which messages may be transmitted over the Internet makes this fertile ground for defamatory comments. As well as liability falling on the person responsible for a particular message there is also the issue of how far Internet Service Providers may be liable for material carried over or accessed through their equipment.
Intellectual Property Law
Introduction to Intellectual Property Law and Software Patents
Intellectual (or Industrial) Property Rights (IPR) have been recognised since the fourteenth century. With the emergence of the 'information society', intellectual property rights which serve as the primary form of protection for ideas and expressions are assuming a pivotal role. This introductory theme will trace the development of systems of IPR and indicate their importance in modern societies. The patent system exists to encourage and reward investors. Its application to software related inventions has been the source of much controversy. The theme will examine the nature of patent protection and evolving legal attitudes towards software patents.
Copyright and Software
National and International statutes provide clearly that software is protected by copyright. The extent of protection is more uncertain, especially in the situation where a later work copies the visual attributes of the original work (sometimes referred to as the 'look and feel') without reproducing any of the underlying code.
Copyright in the Information Society
The previous theme considered the application of established principles of copyright law within a software context. It indicated that the level of protection afforded to copyright owners has diminished so that whilst early cases offered extensive protection to the appearance and functions of a program, later authorities have restricted the copyright owner's rights to little more than the ability to take action against literal copying.
Literal copying creates its own difficulties with the key problem relating to the fact that use of software requires the making of a copy, an act which prima facie infringes the rights of the copyright owner. Following several years of discussion, the European Commission published in late 1998 a proposal for a Directive on Copyright in the Information Society. The initial part of this theme will concentrate on this proposal and you should seek to formulate views whether the Directive adopts novel approaches or simply restates traditional doctrine.
Protection for Databases
The main systems of intellectual property were developed in the Middle Ages. Although they have been subject to extensive amendments, it is arguable that they are not ideally suited for the information age. This final theme will examine attempts which have been made to establish specialised forms of protection in European and International action in relation to the protection of databases.
The purpose of the telecommunications law module is to address the legal issues that arise out of four technological and economic developments in telecommunications.
Legal Issues in the Technological Development of the Industry
The rapid expansion of the facility to transmit very large amounts of voice and video data at very high speeds, through the application of the transmission of digital data.
Legal Issues arising out of the convergence of Media and Communications Technology
The convergence of media, telephonic and broadcast technologies is serving to create a wide global spectrum of communication services at lower access rates; thus realising the public policy objective of an affordable Universal Communication Service on a global scale.
Public Policies and the Regulation and Deregulation of the Telecommunications Industry
The creation of open markets by public policies through the enactment and implementation of legislation to regulate and then deregulate national and global telecommunication industries.
Global Legislative Processes and the Basis of Litigation
The litigation arising out of the conflict between firms wishing to preserve their market advantage by retaining economic and technological barriers, and those firms who wish to enter and compete in protected telecommunication service markets.
Access to Public Information (Distance Learning only)
UK Policy of Crown Copyright
For some time now there has been pressure on the British Government to rationalise its policy of licensing access to official information for commercial purposes. Some relaxations have been introduced but the challenge still remains as to whether this is the best policy to pursue in order to preserve and use this important resource.
Government Policy towards 'Electronic Government'
The public sector traditionally is slower than the private sector to respond to new ideas and technologies. Slowly now the Government is acting to embrace the online world, but what is its policy and how far has it got in its implementation.
EU Information Access Policy
Exploring firstly exploitation of public sector information in the EU and secondly the right of public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents. Both aspects raise important questions about EU information policy and the appropriate direction it should take.
UK Policy towards Freedom of Access to Information
For decades successive British governments resisted all attempts to bring in legislation, relying instead on commitments to the policy and codes of practice in the matter. Finally in 2000 an Act was introduced.
Tax and the Internet
This theme introduces the issues relating to jurisdiction in relation to direct and indirect taxation of supply of goods and services, caused by the unrestricted global nature of Internet trade. It outlines and examines the impact of the European Single market on e-commerce, and concludes with consideration of alternative approaches to taxing commerce conducted electronically.
Security, Cryptography and Electronic Commerce
This theme broaches the issues of security raised by Internet Commercial Communications. Fraud and forgery have traditionally been challenged in part by the requirement of writing for some contracts, the provision for signatures and the requirement to retain copies. In the electronic sphere these can be translated into the provision of encryption and trusted third parties. The Electronic Communications Act 2000, the European Parliament and Council Directive on a Community framework for electronic signatures (1999/93/EC), and the European Parliament and Council Directive on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal market (2000/31/EC) provide for such mechanisms facilitating electronic commerce.
Towards a legal framework for Electronic Commerce - European initiatives
The module's final theme turns to the issues raised by electronic contracting: unsolicited communications ('spam'), the provision of terms and conditions, the place and time of formation of a contract, jurisdiction over and choice of law for electronic contracts, and the liability of ISPs facilitating the electronic contractual communication (caching, hosting, and conduct of third parties).
The theme introduces the relevant EU legislation: the Distance Selling Directive, the Electronic Commerce Directive, and proposed regulation on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters.
The module includes issues of governance- in both its traditional and Internet context. The module also covers issues of Internet Policies as well as Regulation. Specific mention is made of the Domain Name System, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy and the role of the International Telecommunications Union. The module also deals with issues such as freedom of speech and spamming.
Telecommunications Policy (full-time only)
The module includes issues such as: the nature and powers of regulatory agencies within the telecommunications sector; interconnection and access to electronic communications networks; issues that deal with regulation and competition as well as telecommunications regulation in the context of global markets.