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2024/25 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 2024/25

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
On successful completion of the module students will have demonstrated the following learning outcomes relevant to the subject:
1. Interpret and critically engage with 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;
2. 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;
3. Explain and critique the 'economic incentive' theory and the manner in which copyrights are exploited for economic gain by the creative industry;
4. Explain and assess 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;
5. Critically evaluate documentation on the incidence of infringement of copyright, the impact of infringement of copyright and the impact of enforcement of copyright;
6. 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;
7. Critically consider and assess 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 learning outcomes
On successful completion of the module students will have demonstrated the following skills learning outcomes:
1. Reflection and critical thinking around the foundations and modern developments of copyright and its relationship with digital technologies in the context of the participatory web or web 2.0 involving digital users, software producers and internet services providers (ISPs);
2. Presentation skills by explaining complex legal concepts, cases and scholarship relating to user rights (user-generated content or UGC), doctrines supporting freedom of software producers and legal frameworks articulating “safe harbours” for ISPs;
3. Digital creation, problem-solving and innovation by using digital technologies and techniques to present information that engages an audience and demonstrates different perspectives to address policy issues around UGC, new technologies and the policies informing copyright liability of service providers for the infringing acts of their users.
4. Effective communication, planning, leadership and teamwork by working in small groups to come up with solutions to specific problems or working together on a short presentation.
5. Commercial awareness, creativity and actively learning by engaging with the modern literature in the way modern copyright laws seek to re-balance existing frameworks for the creation and distribution of copyright digital content on platforms and digital services.
6. Self-Confidence, initiative and perseverance by taking an active role in learning, maintaining focus and overcoming difficulties.
7. Mastery of the ability to read and summarise complex/technical language in cases involving emerging legal technologies and digital services as they challenge traditional copyright principles and engage fundamental freedoms such the right to conduct a business, the right to freedom of expression, the right of disabled users to read and the right of artistic expression.


Details of the syllabus will be provided on the Minerva organisation (or equivalent) for the module

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

A formal formative assessment opportunity will be provided, which is specifically pedagogically aligned to the summative assessment task. As part of this, each student will receive individual feedback designed to support the development of knowledge and skills that will be later assessed in the summative assessment.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
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: 04/04/2024


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