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Software and the law
Software and the law

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Software and the law

Introduction

This free course, Software and the law, explores the laws relevant to software and its use – taking a global perspective, since the trade in software is international and information made available on the web can be viewed globally.

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 by the law. You’ll learn about copyright and patents, and international agreements aimed at harmonising laws in this area. We will look at how the laws aimed at protecting public goods can also be exploited to protect the public good.

Software is acquired or developed for a specific purpose, with the relationship between purchaser and supplier governed by some sort of contract. What should such a contract cover?

Software can do people harm in a number of ways – including by making public information that should be kept private, by defamation, or by supplying false information that leads people into error. Who should be held liable? How can the law protect you?

We shall illustrate our account of the law with examples from around the world – we want to enable you to explore the laws of your own country to understand their scope in your context.

This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University postgraduate computing course, M814 Software Engineering [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .