The growing influence of communications technology on law
The rising role of the Internet as the key medium for communications and information technology is accompanied by its role as an object of scholarship, especially for us lawyers. This issue was not planned to be one about the Internet, yet the Internet is the strongest feature in it, both in relation to discussion about its use and about the legal issues arising from that use. Thus three of the five refereed articles deal with the Internet in the wider sense, and much of the other information is concerned with communications technology in some way. Of the refereed articles, that by Professor Herberger and others deals with an experiment in online teaching using the web, a subject which was also covered in the CTI Law Technology Centre Seminar on Using the Internet to Teach Law (June 1998). At another level, the way in which communications and information technology is transforming the delivery of justice – indeed, its globalisation, can be seen from McInnes' most interesting practical commentary on Bordertown and the Globalisation of Justice: Using computers in an Australian Magistrates Court. The Internet becomes the key medium for linking the humble PC into a global web of justice especially in the most aptly named Bordertown, Australia.
More significantly, a number of pieces highlight the ongoing commodification of the Internet generally and the web in particular. The refereed articles by Dan Burk and by Connolly and Cameron discuss the role of disputes going on about the intellectual property in web links on both sides of the Atlantic. Will the Shetland Islands be remembered more in future for giving birth to the law on the intellectual property in weblinks than for its magnificent yarns? Copyright and the Internet is also the theme of Athanasekou's work in progress piece on caching, linking and framing.
If the minnows of Shetland can have their say in the new law, the heavy weights are also involved in relation to a different area of the law. The anti-trust dispute between the US Government and Microsoft Corporation is about effective market dominance in relation to Internet browsers. We are planning to develop more extensive discussion of this in the next issue.
A fourth refereed article by Livermore and Euarjai is also about communications technology in the wider sense in considering legal developments in relation to Electronic Bills of Lading. The growth in Electronic Commerce, of which Electronic Bills of Lading are one aspect, is to featured in the next issue of the journal.
Our fifth refereed article is the exception to the rule, and a reminder that the Internet does not (yet?) pervade everything to do with law and information technology. Glass et al's article deals with the very practical issue of how institutions, especially the universities, can use Software Asset Management (SAM) methodology to deal with proper governance of copyright within their domain.
We continue to be delighted by the response of both authors and readers to our innovative journal, and believe that you will find this issue as valuable as previous ones!