School of Law

Distance Learning Computer and Communications Law Module Descriptions

Advanced IP issues: video games

Interactive Entertainment Law  analyses some of the legal and commercial issues that the Interactive Entertainment industry faces. It delineates and analyses the legal parameters within which video game developers and publishers, and Virtual Worlds platform providers operate and in which users create and consume content, providing students with an in-depth analysis of the industry from the development to the commercialisation of interactive entertainment software products and the administration of online video games and virtual worlds.

CCDM008 Online Banking and Financial Services

The aim of the course is to educate students in the law and regulation of banking and financial services with specific relevance to their provision online. It examines the law relating to online payment services and online investment, the consumer protection issues and regulation of advertising, the authorisation and supervision of online financial activities and the legal issues of cross-border provision of financial services. It looks at the regulation of payment systems and electronic money issuers (Payment Services Directive, E-money Directives) and the policy issues underlying this regulation (prudential supervision vs flexibility and innovation in high-technology markets). The module examines country of origin regulation and its implications for e-financial services in the EU Internal Market.

CCDM009 Computer Crime

Cybercrime, cyberterrorism and cyberwars have been new threats developed in the interconnected age of the internet. In this module we are looking at a range of crimes committed through the use of computers (computer-related crimes such as fraud, phishing, identity theft, forgery etc), computer integrity offences where computers or networks are the target of the criminal activity (computer misuse such as hacking offences, denial of service attacks, the installation of malware such as viruses, worms, Trojans and spyware; the creation of botnets) and internet crimes related to the distribution of illegal content (such as child sex abuse images, hate speech and public order offences or obscenity and extreme pornography). This module examines substantive criminal law in England and compares this to other jurisdictions such as the US, Canada and other European countries. It explores the greater risks stemming from criminal activities due to the borderless nature of the internet and the limits of international co-operation in the investigation and enforcement of transnational crimes and the differences in criminality in different jurisdictions (such as the greater emphasis on freedom of speech under the US Constitution, for example). The module also covers jurisdiction in criminal cases and transnational investigation of crime and international harmonisation efforts (Council of Europe Cybercrime Convention and within the EU).

CCDM010 Online Dispute Resolution in E-commerce

Online transactions present potential difficulties for disputants: parties in different jurisdictions with different legal rules (and possibly languages); transactional amounts that often preclude cross-border litigation and; the use of technology to effect an offer and acceptance. Cross-border redress through the courts in internet cases is made much more difficult and expensive because of these factors. Therefore internet disputes may benefit from Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) which is conducted online. This module gives a basic introduction to the main forms of ADR, mediation and arbitration, and explains the legal and psychological issues associated with ADR. The module then examines how ADR can be developed to become Online Dispute Resolution (ODR), conducted at a distance, obviating the need for travel and increasing the efficiency of dispute resolution, leading in particular to lower costs. The module critically analyses examples of Online Dispute Resolution (ODR), such as the Uniform Dispute Resolution Procedure (UDRP) for top-level domain names or some of the ODR schemes involved in solving disputes in the financial or the communications sector. The design of such ODR is controversial and this module discusses the fairness of such systems and the trade-off between fairness and efficiency. The module also explores recent developments in ODR in the international arena, the Organisation of American States (OAS), UNICTRAL (Working Group) and the EU all have put forward proposals for cross-border ODR in order to encourage e-commerce. Finally the module offers an opportunity to simulate ODR proceedings, role-playing online mediation or online arbitration with the use of a simple case-study and experimenting with different online communication tools.

CCDM011 IT Outsourcing

Business and governments view outsourcing of information and communications technology equipment and services as a means to allow them to focus on their core functions, while maximising their effectiveness and efficiency through integration of the latest technology. This module explores the legal issues surrounding outsourcing arrangements including: the transfer of employees; legal due diligence for asset and intellectual property transfers; the ongoing management of the long-term contract; the establishment of enforceable performance criteria and mechanisms to manage change and; the termination of the contract and return of in-house function or transition to new supplier.

CCDM013 Advanced IP Issues: Protection of Computer Software

This module examines the intricate question of how software is protected as a form of intellectual property and whether the balance of protection is sufficient to guarantee innovation and economic growth. In particular, this module will cover the ongoing debate of the patentability of software from an EU, UK and US perspective, discussing the relevant decisions of the respective patent offices and the courts and the limits of patent protection. The first unit of the module examines the nature of software and is aimed at the non-technical reader. In the following, the module considers different forms of protection for computer software, including the law of confidential information and trade secrets and copyright law. The module considers the unique characteristics of computer programs and their protection as literary works and the limits which copyright protection confers, as copyright does only protect the expression, not the idea underlying a particular software. We examine the cases on non-literal copying (such as the English judgment in Navitaire v Easyjet). Finally, the module covers the main forms of software licensing, including the alternative model of open source licensing (such as the GNU licenses of the Free Sofware Foundation).

CCDM014 Privacy and Data Protection Law

Privacy is a growing concern in today's society, where the power of computers and the growth of the Internet have combined to make it possible to collect and disseminate more information about an individual than ever before. This module explores the meaning of privacy as a philosophical concept, a social construct, a constitutional right and its evolution in US and European jurisprudence. The module critically examines the general administrative regime set up by the Data Protection Directive 1995/46/EC and some aspects of its varying implementation across the EU Member States. The module covers the eight data protection principles, key concepts of the regime (such as the definition of personal data and the notion of data controller), and their application to specific ICTs and internet contexts, such as the problems created by social networking sites (ranging from open default settings to the tagging of photographs or defining the data controller) or the problems created by cloud computing (storing data in different jurisdictions, disclosure to foreign government entities or courts) or the concerns associated with profiling and data mining (for marketing purposes or state security purposes). The module analyses the international aspects of the EU regime, such as jurisdiction, enforcement, international negotiation and solutions to the EU prohibition of international transfers to countries without an adequate data protection standard (such as the US Safe Harbor, Model Contracts or Binding Corporate Rules) and the problems for cloud computing. Finally the module looks briefly at some sectoral data protection regimes such as that pertaining to the electronic communications sector in the EU, the US and Australia.

CCDM015 Advanced IP Issues: Digital Rights Management

This module explores the emergent legal and technological framework for the protection of digital intellectual property. Because of the threat of unrestricted copying and access enabled by the internet, technical solutions to restrict copying and unauthorised access were developed and policymakers were persuaded that such copyright protection mechanisms needed legal protection against circumvention. This module encompasses an examination of the WIPO Copyright Treaties and their implementation in key signatory states, including the EU (Copyright Directive 2001/29/EC), the UK (Copyright Regulations 2003) and the US'(Digital Millennium Copyright Act). The module also examines a range of Digital Rights Management (DRM) tools and how they work. In particular the module explores the conflicts between the legal protection of DRMs and other laws such as privacy and data protection and competition law. Finally one of the conundrums the module covers is the question of how to allow uses covered by exceptions to copyright where copying is restricted by DRMs.

CCDM016 Intellectual Property: Foundation

This module is an introduction to the law of law of Intellectual Property, as it relates to computer and communications law. It should assist you to gain the maximum benefit from other course modules. It should also help you to understand the basic principles of national and international Intellectual Property law; to establish why aspects of information technology and the Internet pose problems in the applications of these principles; and to be able to analyse critically the solutions which have been put forward at a national and international level. The module gives you a firm foundation in the trademark law, copyright, patents, design rights, confidentiality and design rights and the sui generis database right and explains the issues arising in the computer and communications law field. The module contains an overview of the legal issues which arise uniquely from IP rights applied to the online environment, such as trade marks' influence on domain name disputes;  the internet as a technology relying on copying for transmission and copyright; and hyper-linking on the WWW, internet business patents, peer-to-peer file sharing and fair use. When it comes to online freedom, is the Internet a playground, a battlefield, or a prison?

CCDM018 Internet Content Regulation

The Internet is often portrayed as unregulated and anarchic, rife with pornography and salacious lies. User-generated content and interactive media platforms for sharing content such as Social Networking Sites and sites like YouTube or Flickr or Wikipedia may have exacerbated this. Forms of censorship are applied in all states and include laws controlling the distribution of indecent content, content showing the sexual abuse of children, content glorifying or encouraging acts or terrorism or threatening public order, laws inciting racial hatred or laws protecting a person’s reputation and/or privacy. For cultural and historic reasons such laws differ significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction as does the balance between freedom of expression and its restriction. Internet technology, however, presents a number of challenges to what were previously settled legal issues. For example the internet crosses national borders and so does the content, which leads to a conflict between different laws and enforcement problems . Moreover when should an Internet service provider (ISP) be held liable for defamatory material- is the role of the ISP akin to that of a publisher or the distributor of a newspaper? This module will consider the problems raised by the technology, and explore how different jurisdictions - particularly the UK, the EU and the US - have responded to this challenge. Policy issues surrounding legal reform will form an integral part of the module.

CCDM019 Information Security and the Law

Serious information security breaches in the private (such as the attack on Sony PlayStation Network in 2011) and the public sector make the headlines frequently, causing consumer consternation and lack of trust, business losses, public embarrassment and potentially, legal liability. Protecting their critical information systems and data is a serious concern for businesses and governments. This module aims to teach you the key legal aspects and principles surrounding electronic data and systems security (protecting the confidentiality and integrity of data and systems from internal and external attacks), identity management, authentication and authorisation. The module illustrates these principles with examples. It covers the legal framework in England and the European Union, in the shape of criminal laws (such as the Computer Misuse Act), administrative law (such as the EU Data Protection Directive 1995/46/EC and its national implementation, in particular the 7th data security principle) and civil liability. The module also looks at standards for Information Security Management Systems such as ISO/IEC 27001:2005. On completing this module, you will have an understanding of what legal and commercial factors drive information security; the legal issues that arise in relation to information security; and, most importantly, what technical issues are involved and how the law affects them.

CCDM020 Internet Jurisdictional Issues and Dispute Resolution in E-commerce

The resolution of disputes arising from e-commerce transactions and interactions is made difficult by the borderless, anonymous nature of the Internet. This module will look at the resolution of disputes arising from Internet interactions. It covers the concept of Conflicts of Law/Private International Law (PIL) with particular focus on European and US rules and how the Internet as a borderless medium has changed the paradigm of PIL. This module analyses the conflicts of law arising from private , civil disputes stemming from internet interactions across a border. For example if a Russian businessman has been defamed in a US online publication accessed by the public in England, can the Russian claimant sue the US publication in defamation before the English courts? If a consumer in France buys goods from a website hosted and operated in England can this French consumer sue the English businesswoman in the French courts and can the resulting judgment (if the French consumer is successful) be enforced against the assets of the English business? This module will examine questions like these in the light of the Brussels Regulation (Jurisdiction) and the Rome I and Rome II Regulations (Applicable Law), and the emerging jurisprudence of the English, EU and US courts.

CCDM021 European Telecommunications Law

This module aims to teach you a key aspect of communications law: the European legal framework governing the markets for telecommunications equipment, network and services. Telecommunications law governs the infrastructure underlying all modern electronic communications, traditional fixed-line telephony, mobile telephony and the internet. This module examines the most important facets of telecommunications regulation: liberalisation of the markets, competition policy, consumer rights such as universal service, access to electronic communications networks, including the roll-out of broadband and fibre-optic cables (eg outside urban areas), interconnection issues (between different providers), the regulation of telephone numbers as assets, net neutrality (the question whether differential pricing regimes should apply to different types of content delivered over the network), standardisation of technologies and data protection and privacy issues related to electronic communications networks (such as disclosure and retention obligations in respect of different types of data). This module analyses the main European instruments and their implementation in the EU (in their current revisions): Framework Directive, the Access Directive, Authorisation Directive, the Universal Service Directive and the e-Privacy Directive.

CCDM025 Mergers and Acquisitions in the ICT Sector

The M&A in the IT Sector module is divided into five Units. The first Unit considers the different reasons that drive M&A activity; the different forms of acquisition; the process of valuing a company in the IT sector and strategies used to undermine such a transaction. The second Unit examines the process of investigating and assessing the acquisition target through the process of 'due diligence'. Unit three examines the liabilities that may arise in such transactions and the remedies that may be available. Unit four examines the legal and regulatory framework governing M&A activity. The final Unit considers the unique features that arise when the M&A involves a publicly-listed company.

CCDM026 International Telecommunications Law

Telecommunications is an inherently transnational technology. As such, the development of telecommunications has always required substantial co-operation and agreement between nation states. Historically, the need for on-going co-operation between states has meant the establishment of inter-governmental organisations, of which the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is the oldest. In addition, the nature of the industry demands the construction of communications links across jurisdictions subject to both domestic and international law. As such, the telecommunications industry has been subject to treaties and conventions established under public international law for the treatment and use of common natural resources, specifically the law of the sea and outer space law. This module broadly examines four substantive aspects of international telecommunications law: (a) The construction of international telecommunications network infrastructure, both satellites and submarine cables; (b) the standards and operating rules established under the framework of the International Telecommunications Union; (c) the impact of the World Trade Organisation and associated trade agreements on national telecommunication markets and legal regimes and (d) issues for developing countries.

CCDM027 E-Commerce Law

This module examines the legal issues pertaining to e-commerce and is addressed to lawyers wishing to act for and advise e-businesses. The module focuses on transactional issues, applying e-commerce law to the issues involved in the establishment and operation of an e-commerce business in a practical manner while maintaining academic rigour. The module identifies gaps, conflicts and compliance issues within the current and developing legal framework on e-commerce and to what extent the existing legal framework impacts on new and emerging technologies from a multi-jurisdictional and comparative angle. The module encompasses setting up an e-business, domain name and web-hosting issues, the use of cloud computing for e-businesses, payment issues, compliance with advertising/marketing and consumer protection regulations, dispute resolution and protecting the IP assets of the business.

CCDM028 Online Media Regulation

A key element in the development of the world wide web over the past decade has been its increasing colonisation by commercial interests, including commercial provision of content online. In particular, the media has actively embraced the online world; for instance, the Newspaper Society estimates that in the UK alone, 90% of regional newspapers now have an online presence with at least some degree of archival material available via that route. As technologies converge, the web has become an integral part of content delivery, with not only newspapers but also organisations such as the BBC providing online content which supplements their other services. This module will examine the issues which arise when a number of traditional legal concepts are brought into this online context - in particular, it will consider the application of the law on libel, contempt of court, and copyright as it relates to the online delivery of content by the media, as well as looking at the Press Complaints Commission self-regulatory system employed by the press in the UK, which applies equally to online press content. The module will primarily use UK / EU law as a case-study, however, where relevant examples from other jurisdictions will be considered for comparative analytical purposes.

CCDM029 Taxation and Electronic Commerce

The growth of e-commerce has made it an important driver of national economies. However, it has presented such challenges for nations and states as the tax presence of virtual entities and their jurisdiction to tax online transactions, under the existing bilateral tax treaties and national laws governing taxation. This course examines these issues with a focus on both direct and indirect taxation, as well as the international legal framework (OECD) that is being developed to address such issues.

CCDM031 Information and Communications Technology and Competition Law

The following six factors make the study of competition law as applied to the ICT sector a fascinating subject area: First, the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industries are characterised by rapid and constant change. Secondly, network effects are a frequent characteristic of ICT in that the most popular provider quickly becomes the most useful which in turn makes this provider more popular which quickly leads to significant market power (the value of the product or service being dependent on the number of users, see Facebook, to name but one example). Thirdly, the extensive use of intellectual property rights in the ICT sector, conferring effectively limited monopoly rights to a provider, leads to a tension between IP rights and competition law. Fourthly, new business models that change the traditional supply and distribution systems (frequently cutting out the intermediary in a vertical chain) create possible tensions with rules of competition law established in the offline world. Fifthly in order to ensure interoperability between different ICTs standardisation is crucial, but standardisation also conflicts with free competition, requiring a balancing act. Finally the convergence between different types of technologies (such as the internet and broadcasting/communications in the shape of IPTV/video-on-demand or Voice over IP (such as Skype)) also changes the structure of ICT markets. This module analyses EU competition law, including merger control, vertical and horizontal restrictions of competition and how EU competition law has reacted to these factors (some having pro-competitive, some having anti-competitive effects). The module examines in detail recent investigations and decisions such as those concerning Microsoft and Google.

CCDM037 Broadcasting Regulation

Since the early days, the broadcast media has been subject to sector specific regulation. In the modern world, broadcasting is regulated both at the level of the right to broadcast, and the content which is broadcast. Recent years have also seen the increasing proliferation of on-demand audio-visual content, delivered in a non-linear manner via the internet. Such technological development poses new challenges for regulation: the content, and so, inevitably, the impetus for regulation, may be similar or the same, however the context has changed. Traditional devices such as limiting the time of day (“watershed”) at which certain content is allowed to be made available are inapplicable in this context. As ever, the cross-border nature of the internet raises difficulties for regulation here. This module will consider from an international perspective the challenges posed to regulation of the contemporary broadcast media, and how they may be overcome.

CCDM038 Regulation of Cross-Border Online Gambling

This highly topical module analyses the conflicts between different regulatory regimes governing online gambling in the international context and how these affect the cross-border provision of online gambling. Online gambling is a key case-study for the regulation of cross-border activities on the internet. States fundamentally disagree on how to regulate gambling, for moral, religious and social reasons, and therefore regulatory regimes differ, ranging from the prohibitionist to the permissive. The module examines the latest legislation and cases concerning online gambling by comparing different regulatory models. The regulation of online gambling also has negative implications for the freedom to trade. Hence this module covers international trade by making sense of the myriad of cases in the EU Internal Market and the WTO. It also explains conflict of laws issues, including which state or court is competent, which law is applicable, and what rules govern enforcement in cross-border e-gambling disputes. This module represents a detailed examination of all international law issues of cross-border online gambling and thus provides an invaluable insight into internet regulation.

CCDM039 Internet Governance

The internet as a decentralised, global network of networks of interconnected computers is difficult to govern or regulate. The Module critically analyses internet governance and the role of different agents in governance and the UN Internet Governance Forum, discussing different modes of international governance (eg intergovernmental institutions, self-regulation). It examines ICANN's role, function and operations in particular in respect of the Domain Name System. The Module critically evaluates the nature and significance of domain names, in terms of technology, commercial interests and law (are domain names a form of property?). In this context the Module very briefly and by way of background examines the nature of the conflict between domain names and trademarks (without discussing trademark law in great detail). The Module critically assesses the Uniform Dispute Resolution Procedure and the wider issues related to domain name dispute resolution. It analyses the issue of identifying the person registering a domain name (WHOIS) and  the role of registrars and registries in law enforcement and in respect of policy-making. One aspect of policy making in the domain name space is whether certain types of internet activities (gambling, pornography) should be limited to certain types of domains in order to achieve important policy goals such as child protection. The Module also compares governance in respect of the generic TLDs with CC TLDs to compare different models of internet governance in order to assess their effectiveness. Finally the Module examines the new generic TLDs and their impact on trademarks, policy, dispute resolution and law enforcement.

CCDM040 Online Trademarks

This module examines the legal implications of using trademarks online: on a website, as a metatag (invisible use in the website description) or as a keyword in a search engine (such as Google Adwords). The Module considers to what extent such uses are trademark use and constitute trademark infringement giving rise to liability of website operators, search engines and other online intermediaries as well as liability of the advertisers themselves. The Module examines the relevant trade mark law in some of the major European jurisdictions (UK, France and Germany) and the (partial) harmonisation of trade mark law in Europe in the shape of the Trade Mark Directive 2008/95/EC and the recent jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice on online trademarks. The Module looks at the protection granted to famous trademarks (trademark dilution). It compares and contrasts the approach in the EU with that of the federal jurisdiction in the US, including the jurisprudence on ‘initial interest confusion’. The topic of this Module raises interesting questions about the limits of trademark protection and how the functions of trademarks have changed and their role in the online world. It also raises interesting legal and policy questions about the liability of online service providers such as search engines and online trading platforms such as eBay and their role in enabling the sale of counterfeited products and their liability.

CCDM043 Cloud Computing

This module will provide a framework for understanding and analysing cloud computing technologies and services; private and public sector cloud contracts, including both standard terms and negotiated transactions; the application of data protection law to the storage and other processing of information in cloud environments, including what is regulated, who is responsible, which laws apply and the circumstances in which law enforcement authorities access information; and various other key legal and regulatory issues relating to cloud governance.

CCDM046 Cyber Crime

Cybercrime, cyberterrorism and cyberwar are new threats developed in the interconnected age of the internet. In this Module we are looking at a range of crimes committed through the use of computers, including computer-related crimes (e.g. fraud, phishing, identity theft), computer integrity offences (e.g. hacking, denial of service attacks, malware), content-related crimes (e.g. child sex abuse images, hate speech and copyright infringement) and contact-related crimes (e.g. Harassment, stalking and revenge porn). This Module examines the Council of Europe Cybercrime Convention (2001) and its implementation in the UK and the US. The Convention addresses three distinct issues, which are reflected in the course: substantive criminal law, I e.g. the need for new offences; procedural law, e.g. Investigatory powers, and international co-operation, e.g. mutual legal assistance and extradition.

CCDM047 Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and the Law

While the use of robots creates arguably more efficient, precise and innovative outcomes, it also presents a number of questions with regards to liability, responsibility and legal personhood in criminal law, contractual obligations, and torts. The use of cognitive features allowing robots to interact with their environment inevitably raises issues of data protection and privacy.

The module covers both embodied artificial intelligent systems (robots) and non-embodied ones (intelligent agents). Distinction is also made between the behaviour of robots as tools of human interaction, and robots as independent agents in the legal arena and its legal ramifications.