Computer Law: Dynamics, Themes, and Skill Sets

AuthorGeorge Takach
ProfessionAdjunct Professor
This book presents a wide-ranging analysis of intellectual property law,
criminal law, regulatory legal regimes, commercial law, and electronic
commerce and Internet legal issues in terms of four principal dynam-
ics. First, there is the impact on the law of rapid technological change
and the law’s response to this. A second dynamic is the elusive nature
of information, particularly in its digital form, and how the law is cop-
ing with the challenges posed by this. A third dynamic is the increas-
ing fusion of the public and private spheres in many computer law
matters. Finally, there is a blurring in computer law of the dividing line
that has traditionally separated that which is national and that which
is international. Each of these dynamics presents computer law and its
practitioners with several fundamental challenges.
In meeting these challenges, the legal system can consider four
themes, the elements of which weave through this book. First, there is
the need for consistency in computer laws. Then one needs to under-
stand something about regulatory control points and the law. A third
theme recurs around the liability of intermediaries; and finally, the law
must consider the dangers of mischievous metaphors. Armed with an
appreciation of the aforementioned dynamics and themes, the legal
practitioner can approach virtually any present or future legal problem
by employing one or more skill sets: the common law, by which
reliance is placed on judge-made interpretations of the current law;
contract, by which persons, companies, and organizations craft their
own rules, particularly in the absence of meaningful judicial precedent
chapter 8
(or in the face of conflicting jurisprudence); technology, which
involves using technical measures to overcome perceived weaknesses
in the law; and law reform, which entails changes in statute-based law
(or the adoption of new statutes) to solve a problem in the previous
state of statute or judge-made law and, in certain cases, to reduce the
need for contractual and technological solutions.
1) The Rapid Pace of Technological Change
The first and most important dynamic in the computer law field is the
relentless pace of technological change. As discussed in chapter 1, the
computer industry rides a roller coaster that appears — and in fact is
— out of control. No other industry produces new products and serv-
ices at such a dizzying pace. Each new product that is launched engen-
ders other products, some competitive, some complementary. There
are also continual developments in the formats, methodologies, and
technologies for delivering traditional content — such as music,
images, and text. Relatively recent developments include multimedia
products on CD-ROM, and most recently, of course, there is the use of
the Internet for commercial purposes. And wireless delivery capabili-
ties now make information, software, and content available to every-
one, everywhere, at all times. In a word, developments in the computer
field are breathtaking, especially when considered in light of the fact
that the microchip is only thirty years old. It is an exhilarating time for
this industry. While the cadence of technological change has perhaps
never been as peripatetic as it is today, the phenomenon of one tech-
nology-driven device leapfrogging the other to produce a competitive
and dynamic environment is not new. The thrust and parry between
the telegraph and the telephone created an analogous situation, and
later devices such as the radio, teletype, telex, television, cable trans-
mission, and other technologies all added to the mix, each leaving new
legal challenges in its wake. With the microchip and the computer rev-
olution, coupled with the latest networks (including the Internet),
however, this process has been accelerated, with enormous implica-
tions for the law.
The dynamic of rapid technological change is evident in the area of
intellectual property law, as articulated in chapter 2. Developers of new
technologies and information-based products are constantly agitating
for intellectual property protection for the fruits of their labour. The
Computer Law: Dynamics, Themes, and Skill Sets 673

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT