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    Legal Aspects of Computing

    Laws that concern computers and digital data, sometimes called 'Cyberlaw' or 'internet law' collectively, are a relatively recent development in the grand scheme of laws. While not yet as distinct as say property law or intellectual law (there is a great deal of crossover between these fields and internet law), it is a body of law seeing an ever-increasing use in the recent clamp-down attempts on internet piracy

    Successful activism against Internet Law: Many sites enacted a 24-hour blackout in protest of the 2012 American S.O.P.A. Image Credits: Magnus Manske and Dark Attsios.

    In addition to piracy and copyright infringement cases, internet law comes into play in cases concerning internet access and usage debates, the privacy requirements on digital data, freedom of expression online, hacking/unauthorized access and intellectual property disagreements. It also deals with hardware issues such as patents for computer-orientated machines and the intellectual property in software that comes with them as well as restrictions on importing and exporting such hardware.

    One of the biggest issues in properly regulating the internet is the jurisdiction issues attached. If ripping and redistributing movies is legal in one country but many citizens are downloading these copies in a country where it is not legal, how can the second country prevent this? This issue extends beyond piracy, to places like China which are known for keeping a tight handle on the availability of the internet to their citizens. It provides challenges that will one day have to be met at an international level.

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