In this free course, Software and the law, you'll look at the laws relevant to software and its use, taking a global perspective.
A major part of this course is devoted to intellectual-property law, the issue of who owns software and digital content and how that ownership can be protected using instruments like copyright and patents. We also cover how contracts are used to formalise the relationship between purchasers and suppliers of software. Finally, we look at some of the laws that apply to information technology and software to ensure that organisations meet their responsibility of care towards employees, customers, and the general public.
Course learning outcomes
After studying this course, you should be able to:
explain the differences between various types of intellectual property and the legal frameworks that apply to each type
understand the issues that arise when drawing up contracts relating to acquiring or developing software
explore the legal frameworks relating to software systems in a specific context.
You can start this course right now without signing-up. Click on any of the course content sections below to start at any point in this course.
If you want to be able to track your progress, earn a free Statement of Participation, and access all course quizzes and activities, sign-up.
Creative commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence.
However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These
materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions377 and our FAQs378.
Full copyright details can be found in the Acknowledgements section of each week.
For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.
Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University.
The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now.
Take a look at all Open University courses.
If you are new to University-level study,
we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an
Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on
Where to take your learning next for more information.