Welcome to the final and festive edition of JILT for 2002. Under this tree you will find all sorts of exciting packages waiting to be unwrapped - including CAL programmes for learning law, sociological arguments to be explored, virtual representation games, specially-encrypted DVDs, and tricky copyright puzzles to solve!
The issue has seven refereed articles, a special research report, commentary and several book reviews. The hard-working elves (or authors if you prefer) have carefully hand-crafted the presents using raw material from Australia, Denmark, Hong Kong, Norway, the UK and US.
So, who needs Santa, when JILT can provide a sackful of goodies like this?
First out of the sack is Marlene Le Brun's work on the development of a new web site for law students. During her time at City University Hong Kong, Marlene and a group of colleagues and students, along with collaboration with other organisations, developed an expandable web site for teaching law students how to interview and counsel clients. She describes why the site was developed, what has been accomplished through doing it and discusses the potential of information technology to help shape and change the teaching of legal skills.
Philippa England highlights new ways in which information technology can be used in the teaching of law. She describes a system developed at Griffith University for delivering Unincorporated Associations and Trusts (UAT). In the article, England demonstrates how student feedback to the flexible delivery of UAT in 2000 has been incorporated and helped to fine-tune the package they are now working with. The case study offers one example of how this sort of technology can be successfully integrated into the teaching in a way that enhances student learning, but also clearly demonstrates that the transition to this way of learning is not always an easy one.
Also on the subject of the legal classroom, we have another insightful piece from Orlan Lee who looks at the sticky subject of 'fairness' in standardised testing as experienced by students at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
Finally we take a look at what makes 'Effective Learning and Teaching in Law', compiled by Roger Burridge, Karen Hinnett, Abdul Paliwala and Tracey Vanarva of the UK Centre for Legal Education at the University of Warwick and reviewed by Lorna Gillies of Leicester University. The book contains a number of useful case studies illustrating effective legal teaching including several IT-focused studies such as Paul Maharg's work at Strathclyde University.
We have two little gems in this area to muse over. Firstly John Cahir, a Herschel Smith Research Scholar at Queen Mary Intellectual Property Research Institute at the University of London, takes a sociological look at information laws. He argues that:
'information is essentially a social phenomenon and that law, as a regulator of social relations, directly affects the production, content and communication of information. A holistic understanding of 'information laws' is therefore a useful aid for considering the composition of so-called information societies'.
Cahir shows that a scientific framework could be applied to the meaning of information but also a sociological analysis of information laws is desirable within that and goes on to look at the concepts of polity, economy and culture.
Next we have a very interesting report on the impact of the internet in Australian politics from Peter Chen at Centre for Public Policy, University of Melbourne. Although perhaps not a conventional law and IT article as such, we decided to include it as a special research report as we feel it important, timely and relevant for increasing understanding in this area and showing how the making of laws is changing through the use of modern technology. 'Virtual representation' in politics may become a pivotal point in the history of, and making of, our so-called 'information society'.
Chen's research demonstrates that generalised use of online services (specifically the Internet and use of email) by elected representatives is
'substantially higher than that of the Australian population average, and interest in the use of online services, online consultation, and online voting is also quite high. Second, the application of online consultation remains limited for some groups of representatives.
Chen goes on to examine the depth and breadth of change required to implement certain online democratic practices through the use of a number of adoption curves.
Copyright issues continue to dominate the legal IT arena, but now we have some exciting new twists:
Andrés Guadamuz, from the University of Edinburgh, unwraps one area of research and this is the protection of proprietary encryption tools for the new technologies such as DVD and DeCSS. The article deals with the cracking of DVD encryption and its evolvement into a computer programme - DeCSS, which has been made available over the Internet and is the subject of three recent court cases - two in the US and one in Norway. Guadamuz describes the technologies involved, the developments in the court cases and then looks at some of the legal issues surrounding hyper-linking, trade secrets, freedom of speech and the translation of DeCSS into numerical format.
Another development in this field is the emergence of a specific form of copyright known as 'copyleft'. As the name would suggest, this is a kind of reaction to the traditional forms of copyright used to protect proprietary software and is a term applied to the concept of free or open source software (OSS). This software has been developed in the spirit of openness, collaboration and the sharing of information, perhaps the cornerstones of the World Wide Web. However, this contemporary sort of software also brings new problems of licensing formats. Maureen O'Sullivan from the University of Warwick, in her article - 'Making Copright Ambidextrous: An Expose of Copyleft', addresses these complex issues. She compares the BSD licencing system with the GNU GPL, highlighting the different systems programmers adopt to try and protect their programs, and puts this within a legal and socio-legal context.
Finally on this subject, there are two book reviews - 'Managing Intellectual Capital' by David J Teece, and reviewed by Charles Oppenheim of Loughborough University and 'Cross Border Enforcement of Patent Rights: An Analysis of the Interface Between Intellectual Property and Private International Law', by Marta Pertagas Sender, reviewed by Philip Leith of Queens University Belfast.
In this section, Petter Gottschalk from the Norwegian School of Management, provides an update to his survey of 'Law Firm Clients as Drivers of Law Firm Change'. This is a revised version of an article that was published in Issue 1 of this year and reports the latest results from surveys of law firm clients in Norway and their satisfaction with their law firm work and the use of information technologies.
Gottschalk's research might prove a useful benchmark study in comparing how law firms in general use ICT with how other leading (but non-legal) companies use these technologies.
Mads Bryde Andersen, from the University of Copenhagen provides a useful review of William V Rapp's book: 'Information Technology Strategies: How Leading Firms Use IT to Gain and Advantage'. William Rapp, is a Professor of International Trade and Business at the School of Management of the New Jersey Institute of Technology. The aim of the book is to help managers make strategic decisions about their use of IT. Unfortunately there are no legal examples in the book, but Andersen was impressed by depth and breadth of the case studies used in demonstrating how major enterprises have decided to use IT. Even without the legal emphasis, it should prove an interesting read for highlighting what can be done with the available technologies and the transferable lessons.
Subhajit Basu, currently studying for his PhD at Liverpool John Moores University takes a critical look at the European Commission's attempts to preserve the European VAT system within electronic commerce.
On May 7th , 2002, the European Council adopted a new Directive to amend the existing VAT legislation, which effectively results in the taxing of all digitally delivered products at uniform rate. The Directive made the EU the first significant taxing authority to implement a simplified framework for consumption taxes on e-commerce. However, this unilateral approach is wide open to criticism. The key to the success of the Directive is the online identification of consumers. Currently, however the available technology does not allow the seller to verify the location of a consumer or even whether that consumer is VAT registered, but the Directive assumes that this technology will become available in due course, leading to many potential problems in the meantime. Basu highlights some of these problems and re-emphasises the need for improved international cooperation for administering such taxes.
Look forward to a special edition of JILT coming out in the New Year with papers from the Second Bournemouth Symposium on Intellectual Property held in July, 2002: Software Related Inventions; Prospects and Risks for European Companies.
Please see the web site of the Centre for IP Policy and Management at the University of Bournemouth for further details.
8. And for the final six days of Christmas ...
Relax, enjoy yourself, have a wonderful holiday with friends and family, and think about submitting an article for next year!
The first issue for 2003 will be published in February/March.. We are as ever 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 Editor if you would like to discuss anything further or see the Submission Standards for further information. Papers for the next edition should be submitted by the end of January 2003.
This Editorial was published on 6 December 2002.
Citation: 'Editorial', 2002 (3) The Journal of Information, Law and Technology (JILT). <http://elj.warwick.ac.uk/jilt/02-3/editorial.html>. New citation as at 1/1/04: <http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/law/elj/jilt/2002_3/editorial/>.