Hello and welcome to the first edition of the year. We launch 2001 with a broad-ranging edition covering such topics as PETs and Privacy, E-Commerce and Electronic Contracts, Digital Signatures, Internet Patents and Intellectual Property, Copyright, Domain Name Disputes, CAL, Civil Litigation and the use of IT in law firms. In fact, I'm sure you will agree, something for everyone, from academic, and legal and computing scholars, to legal practitioner or consultant - whatever you bag, we have 'IT' covered!
This issue contains eight refereed articles, three commentaries, a Lord Lloyd Prize Entry and a book review. We are especially keen to promote international perspectives on topical IT and legal issues and consequently we are very pleased to be able to publish papers in this edition from authors based in the Netherlands, Hong Kong, the United States, Canada and Australia, as well as the UK.
One emerging theme from this issue is the enhanced global use of privacy technologies, whether this be for personal data being sent across the Internet, the protection of intellectual property such as patents, trade marks, domain names or copyrighted material, or for the facilitation of e-commerce and the use of digital signatures etc.
The use of Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs) is being encouraged in many countries as part of a comprehensive and systematic approach to privacy protection. Borking and Raab for example examine the development of PETs in relation to the Dutch Personal Data Protection Act and how they might contribute to the lawful processing of personal data, as well as applying the use of other privacy technologies to a more global context.
By drawing on a number of recent Patent Law cases in the US, Henderson and Kane highlight the need to provide adequate patent laws in the UK and Europe for inventions that enable on-line business. The paper also discusses issues such as monopoly, litigation, jurisdiction, and infringement in relation to the increasing number of Internet patent applications being filed.
Infringement issues are also discussed in several further articles. In particular James Hutchinson, in his prize winning entry for the BILETA Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran Prize, asks if the use of Trade Mark Protection will be sufficient to counteract possible cybersquatting violations. Richard Wu analyses the new Provisional Rules for the resolution of Chinese domain name disputes, adopted in November 2000, again touching on cybersquatting and other such problems within a global context. He concludes that although the rules are certainly useful in facilitating e-commerce in China, they fail to go far enough as they do not take into account the interests of the 'non-commercial' sector.
With the ever-increasing growth of the Internet and the opportunities and problems this presents for e-commerce, it is becoming apparent that many countries are adopting tighter national legislative strategies for regulating the flow of information between parties. But can too much legislation be restrictive for the freedom of access to information? Charlotte Waelde provides an interesting alternative perspective in her paper about access to digital copyright information. She examines the current copyright controls in the US and the EU, and questions whether the balance is being tipped just too heavily in favour of the owners rather than the users of copyright material, especially with such initiatives as the 'pay-per-view' system.
McCullagh et al's paper investigates the theoretical problem of digital signature integrity and the right of attribution. The paper compares digital signatures to traditional hand written signatures, and suggests that a possible solution is the use of a trusted third party and the three-way communications hand-shake protocol.
Broadening the e-commerce debate still further is a paper by Jacqueline Lipton, which surveys some of the legal and commercial issues surrounding the financing of e-business and, in particular, those associated with the financing of start-up ventures such as 'dot.com' businesses.
Lorna Gillies reviews the new Jurisdiction Rules for Electronic Consumer Contracts within the EU, providing an excellent example of some of this new international legislation for e-commerce, in the context of a global quest for co-operation and creation of principles for electronic consumer contracts.
From e-commerce, we move into some issues facing current legal practitioners. Darryl Mountain, drawing on the work of Clayton Christensen in The Innovator's Dilemma, debates why law firms should invest in online legal services when to date there seems to be no correlation between their legal technology capabilities and their profitability.
These ideas, (including again the work of Clayton Christensen) are further developed in Richard Susskind's new book - 'Transforming the Law - Essays on Technology, Justice and the Legal Marketplace', reviewed here by Andrew Terrett. Terrett describes Susskind's previous book - 'The Future of Law', as:
'ground-breaking in that it laid out a coherent vision of how technology might not only automate but also transform the practice of, and access to law'.
Although not as revolutionary as the first, this book certainly provides some invaluable solutions for law firms in the form of a model called 'the grid', and for this reason alone, Terrett describes it as a 'must read'.
Ken Withers examines how recent research conducted in the United States is leading to a gradual judicial recognition of using computer-based evidence in civil litigation cases. The question here is whether this computer-based discovery, and its associated problems, will surface in the UK and the EU as it has done in the US.
For the legal educationalists amongst you, we have two further papers that examine in depth the use of CAL and Distance Learning within legal teaching.
Abdul Paliwala presents his Learning in Cyberspace paper, a revised version of the paper that appeared in the 1999 (3) edition, but updated to include more electronically enhanced data so users can have direct access to examples of legal educational development.
David Thomas' paper describes anecdotally the growing use of computer technology in American law schools and the current state of distance learning in American legal education. He describes the features of a web-based property law course he teaches to first year law students and includes some guidelines for using computer resources in legal education.
We hope you enjoy this topical and broad-ranging edition of JILT. The next issue, 2001 (2), will be published in full at the end of June 2001, although there are some papers already in the pipeline and these should be available for perusal some time before this date.
As ever we are keen to highlight new and important areas of research, so please contact us if you have a paper you would like to be considered for publication, be it an academic paper, commentary, information paper, a work in progress or book or IT review. Please contact the Production Manager if you would like to discuss anything further or see the Submission Standards for further information. Papers for the June 2001 issue should be submitted by 18 May 2001.
This Editorial was published on 28 February 2001.
Citation: 'Editorial', 2001 (1) The Journal of Information, Law and Technology (JILT). <http://elj.warwick.ac.uk/jilt/01-1/editorial.html>. New citation as at 1/1/04: <http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/law/elj/jilt/2001_1/editorial/>.