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Introduction to Computer Law


Author: David Bainbridge

Publisher: Longman Pub Group


Publish Date: December 30, 2004

ISBN-10: 582473659

Pages: 597

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

The first edition of this book was published in 1990. It was a relatively slim volume, indicative of the fact that computer law was only really starting to develop as a subject in its own right. Since that time, computer law has grown enormously, reflecting the continual growth of the use of computers and the new and emerging uses that computer technology has been and will be put to. The most noteworthy technological development has, of course, been the phenomenal rise of the Internet, leading to a whole range of issues having legal implications and stimulating legislative responses on a national and international scale. These issues include: the revolution and the use of the Internet for electronic commerce; challenges to intellectual property rights such as copyright, privacy and freedom of expression issues; the availability of pornographic materials; and the threats posed by hackers and those who write and spread computer viruses. The legal responses have often been quick and proportionate in the light of the threats posed. For example, in the United Kingdom, the maximum penalty in respect of child pornography is now imprisonment for ten years and/or a fine. The need for legal intervention is clear when one considers that the ‘I Love You’ computer virus was reckoned to have cost a total of $8.75bn. Significant legislative action has come from the European Parliament and Council to ensure that Europe is not disadvantaged by a lack of appropriate regulations and that there is a level playing field in Europe in terms of establishing information society services and carrying out electronic commerce.

What then is computer law? It covers a wide and diverse spectrum, which is reflected in the structure of this book. After a brief introductory chapter, Part One of the book concentrates on intellectual property rights. These are the rights associated with creative, innovative and inventive works. Particular areas covered include the protection of computer programs and computer databases, electronic publishing, copyright in the information society and the patenting of software. Design law and trade mark law are also relevant. Design law has been changed recently and it is now possible to register computer graphics and icons as designs. There have been numerous cases involving trade marks on webpages and the registration of famous names as Internet domain names.

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