Welcome to the first issue of JILT for 1999.
This issue contains a diversity of materials including computer based learning, electronic commerce, artificial intelligence, intellectual property and electronic legal information.
The theme of Ecommerce, featured in the last issue (1998-3) is continued with articles examining a variety of legal issues being raised by the electronic revolution that is radically changing the way business is conducted. 'Property Offences into the 21st Century' (Jacqueline Lipton) is a topical and challenging refereed article that considers the legal implications of the evolution of the notion of 'property' where many items of value which might have been previously 'owned' by a person in a traditional sense have increasingly come to be replaced by 'intangible', and often electronic, equivalents. The economics of Internet commerce are discussed in relation to infringement of copyright in 'Hijack on the road to Xanadu: The infringement of copyright in HTML documents via networked computers and the legitimacy of browsing hypermedia documents' (Alex Morrison). The global nature of ecommerce and the difficulties this creates in developing laws that do not have universal application is considered by Leif Gamertsfelder in relation to the (Australian) Commonwealth Electronic Transactions Bill 1999. The issue also includes a review of Electronic Commerce by Michael Chissick and Alistair Kelman.
The role of communications and information technology (C&IT) within legal education also features strongly in this issue. David Grantham describes the development of the pilot IOLISplus project at Coventry University which extends the utility of computer based learning materials produced by the Law Courseware Consortium . A case study by Christopher Gale gives an insight into the issues associated with the development of a BA Law with Information Technology at LMU.
The revival of research into legal information retrieval and the identification of possible solutions to the problems of accurate access to rich electronic legal information is considered in two refereed articles. Erich Schweighofer considers the development of intelligent law information systems using the potential of artificial intelligence to make sense of the vast amount of electronic legal materials and James Osborn and Leon Sterling describe their approach to improved retrieval and search by the identification of concepts.
As the millenium approaches the potential problems that will be created by the year 2000 bug are brought sharply into focus. The legal issues related to 'Reliable Software and the year 2000' are explained by means of a millennium fable in Alistair Kelman's commentary. The review of The Year 2000 Legal Guide suggests that this is one of the first books to comprehensively address the legal issues associated with the Y2K problem.
An innovation in this issue is the inclusion of selected papers from the 5th International Conference of the IDG, of the Italian National Research Council: The Law in the Information Society and the 1999 LILI Conference: Challenge and Change in Law Teaching. Papers have been selected with particular relevance to the readers of JILT and published with the permission of the conference organisers. This model will be developed to provide a valuable facility for both conference organisers and legal academics. If you are organising a conference and are interested in publishing your papers within JILT please email the Production Editor.