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2022/23 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

LAW5688M Digital Environment: Law, Technologies & Human Rights

15 creditsClass Size: 30

Module manager: Dr Cesar Ramirez-Montes

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is mutually exclusive with

LAW5689MIntellectual Property in the Digital Environment: The Intern

Module replaces

LAW5689M Intellectual Property in the Digital Environment: The Internet & File-Sharing

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

The aim of this module is critically and comprehensively to analyse current issues arising from the constant tension between intellectual property law (particularly copyright) and new technologies (i.e time and format-shifting devices, online lockers, cloud computing, etc.). The focus is on emerging debates, policy considerations and law reform proposals on issues such as the regulation of new technologies and the impact that copyright enforcement has on fundamental freedoms. In particular, this module provides an opportunity for analysis of some of the issues relating to the infringement of copyright works in the digital environment where multiple copies can be made and distributed more easily, cheaply and speedily than before.


The aim of this module is to introduce students to a number of current issues arising from the constant tension between intellectual property law (particularly copyright) and new technologies. This constant tension has become more acute in the digital environment with new actors and new philosophies informing the debate about the proper role and scope of IP in determining the proprietor's control and dissemination of copyright materials and the user's right to have access to such materials, particularly in the face of increasing human rights narratives. Students will have an opportunity to analyse and critique the arguments for and against by reference to the law, academic commentary and judicial opinions from Europe and other jurisdictions in order to form their own views and opinions on the appropriate responses.

Learning outcomes
Upon completion of this module you will be able to:
- interpret the general principles and philosophies regarding the subsistence, ownership and duration of copyright (including performers' rights) and the general principles regarding the protection of technology which is intended to prevent copyright infringement;
- critically analyse the application of copyright law to the activities of those who upload, share and download copyright works (i.e songs, films, ebooks, etc.) via peer-to-peer file-sharing networks and of those who provide software (or reproducing devices) or an internet connection service that enables such activities;
- explain the 'economic incentive' theory and the manner in which copyrights are exploited for economic gain by the creative industry;
- explain the sociological explanations for why people share copyright-protected materials via peer-to-peer file-sharing networks, why some people are ceasing such activities and the potential liability of these users;
- critically evaluate documentation on the incidence of infringement of copyright, the impact of infringement of copyright and the impact of enforcement of copyright;
- critically evaluate the approach of the creative industries regarding the enforcement of copyright law, the use of education and awareness campaigns, the use of technology and the use of changes to its business methods to reduce the incidence of digital infringement;
- critically consider and analyse the proper role of human rights in shaping and developing the appropriate scope of intellectual property law, particularly in relation to such fundamental freedoms as access to information, private life, data protection, freedom to trade, right to property, etc.

Skills outcomes
- Draw on skills developed in the retrieval, collation, and presentation of information (communication)
- Draw on analytical skills developed in the comparative understanding of concepts (problem solving)
- Critically read and comparatively evaluate literature (learning to learn)


The module is taught weekly, so there are 8 seminars each of them for two hours spanning across the semester. Each seminar session is accompanied by a reading list that students are required to do and prepare answers to a set of questions designed to encourage students to focus on the most relevant aspects of the topic in question. In order to facilitate learning, the reading lists will be divided into essential and recommended reading (though occasionally there may be 'further reading' for those wishing to explore certain issue in more detail), with the essential reading being compulsory for the seminar.

The format of the seminars is tutor-led class discussion but students are expected to take an active role by contributing to the discussion based upon the reading material. For some seminars, the tutor may ask students to prepare a small presentation for some of the seminar questions but these presentations will be on a voluntary basis and decided in advance to allow the students time to prepare.

Finally, the tutor will be make online resources available for students to read (or watch or listen to) outside the classroom such as newspaper articles, videos, webcasts, podcasts, etc. These will be provided on the VLE on a regular basis and students are encouraged to make use of these extra materials to gain a better understanding and insights into the topics.

The assignment will consist of discursive questions, with students choosing one question only and submitting an essay in accordance with the regulations.

The seminars will cover the following broad topics:
- General Principles of Copyright: Philosophical foundations, exclusive rights and exceptions;
- Potential liability of users and software (and technology) providers: Secondary forms of copyright infringement;
- The position of Internet Services Providers: Safe Harbour Provisions;
- Enforcement: A balance between exclusive rights and fundamental freedoms;
- Technical and business solutions: The Future

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours135.00
Total Contact hours15.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Seminar participation;
Formative feedback: Students will have the chance to submit an outline of the Assignment and the tutor will provide written feedback in the last seminar;
Final submission of essay.
The module will be assessed through 1 x 4000 word essay.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay4,000 words100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

There is no reading list for this module

Last updated: 29/04/2022 15:29:05


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