Information Technology Law (2nd ed.)
Butterworths, 1997, £28.95
xlvi + 508pp, ISBN: 0-406-89515-5
Choosing a good student textbook for teaching Information Technology Law is always a problem. Students do not just need the cases and the law – they need to be taught how to think like lawyers so that they can apply their newly found knowledge to legal problems which they encounter in their daily lives.
Some of the 'textbooks' in this field are collections of essays. Although these can be of some use to practising lawyers who are wishing to learn about the subject with they lack the coherence of a well researched text from one author who uses the book as his text and can build the logical flow through his work. Other student texts are too scholarly stressing the research biases of the authors.
Two years ago, after reviewing the market, I recommended Professor Lloyd's book to my students as the preferred main textbook of my postgraduate course on Information Security and the Law at the LSE. I choose it because it was concise and clear and provided students with good foundation upon which they could commence their research. It was also useful that I found myself in agreement with the author on most of his conclusions in the text.
But as with all textbooks they require updating and the first edition, although fine for 1994, was really becoming unusable. Earlier this year I started looking around, trying to find other texts to slot in to cover topics of growing importance like Competition Law, the regulation of the Internet, the rising importance of Patents for computer based inventions, database protection and liability for defective software. Nothing on the UK market was suitable. I liked David Bainbridge's 'Intellectual Property Law' but this was too detailed and did not cover all the topics I needed – although it made good use of diagrams to explain technical issues.
Now that Professor Lloyd has produced a new edition I finally have a textbook I can recommend. In just under 500 pages (excluding the index) he sets out short summaries of the issues and the law. The chapters average sixteen pages in length making them a very suitable length for students' weekly assignments. But the nicest feature is not only is the book clearly written and very up-to-date (being finished in September 1997) but the book is linked to a special Web site where buyers of the book can receive free updates as well as very significant reference materials.
I tried to access this site first of all using Opera, a browser which does not support some of the more recent features found in other browsers. There I found a tiny difficulty – the Butterworth's site requires the user to use either Netscape or Internet Explorer. Once I switched to Netscape I was able to enter the secret information, which can only be found within the book, that enabled me to gain access to the site. And there I was delighted to find not only were there updates to the book but also copies of relevant statutes and cases. To get this information by other means would be time consuming and expensive, yet within seconds I had all the materials I needed to continue my studies.
My only criticisms are that there is no bibliography, suggestions for further reading and the like in the textbook. But, to be fair, all these matters can be catered for on the Web site. In addition readers can be automatically notified by e-mail when there are additions or changes to the book's Web site. This is a genuine paradigm for the future of legal publishing.
This is a Book Review published on 27 February 1998.
Citation:Kelman A, 'Ian Lloyd's Information Technology Law', Book Review, 1998 (1) The Journal of Information, Law and Technology (JILT). <http://elj.warwick.ac.uk/jilt/bookrev/98_1kelm/>. New citation as at 1/1/04: <http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/law/elj/jilt/1998_1/kelman/>