Just in Case

June 16, 2010

I have just signed off the latest issue of {i}Computers & Law{/i} and one feature of the issue is that we have a large number of articles which are case reports and comments. Obviously we have always tried to keep readers abreast of developments in case law, but often that involved dissecting the entrails of judgments that had no real value as precedents. Insofar as IT law depends on precedent, there are still some uncharted waters, quite a few areas of coastline where the lines have been guessed and some areas of the interior that remain a mystery, but it is not like the old maps where once the IT lawyer might justifiably have said ‘here be dragons’.

In my editorial for the issue, I remark that IT judgments are becoming more like judgments in other fields because IT has penetrated into such a wide range of commercial and social activities that disputes are highly likely to have an IT element. I seek feedback from members on the usefulness of case reports because I have begun to have doubts about how much High Court rulings matter. Feel free to leave comments on that question below, but a second issue has since occurred to me. What are the big uncertainties that leave IT lawyers scrambling like goalkeeper after a Jabulani? What would you like to see decided for sure by a major judgment?

Perhaps the IT lawyers of the world needed to know what ‘perpetual’ meant as in BMS Computer Solution v AB Agri Ltd (my advice: don’t redefine ‘perpetual’, use a different word) or really do stay awake at night wondering about liability for copyright infringement in Second Life. I doubt it. My guess is that the status of Internet intermediaries would be top of the list of worrying uncertainties.

If we can establish what you’d most like to know about, we might be able to help, with learned opinions that is – I think the chances of SCL funding a suitable test case for the Supreme Court are slim.