These are the electronic, optical and other technologies that capture, store, process and disseminate data. They include equipment manufacturing, software development, data processing and many related services. Virtually every commercial and social activity depends on these technologies and it is hard to draw the line between ICT and such closely related industries as e-commerce, internet services and broadcasting.
The legal issues affecting this industry include:
- legal protection of programs and databases
- contracts for the supply of computer systems and services
- privacy and data protection
- telecommunications regulation, and
ICT law is one of the strengths of NIPC. Jane Lambert first had to advise on those issues in the early 1980s when she was legal advisor to VISA International for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. She devised a system for logging and tracking confidential information which was used by her employer’s technical staff in their discussions with telecommunications equipment suppliers. She reviewed and drafted computer supply contracts. She offered a solution for installing a processor which was used and controlled by her employer in a country that had no concept of the law of trusts but which prohibited foreign ownership of advanced equipment. She oversaw negotiations with the Commission for an exemption from art 85 of the Treaty of Rome (now art 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union), She advised on the Austrian data protection statute years before similar legislation was introduced to the UK. She attended the International Bar Association’s special conference on trans-border data flow in Toronto in October 1983 and the International Telecommunications Union’s legal symposium in Geneva a month later.
When she returned to private practice in 1984 she continued to draft and review computer supply contracts. One of her first clients was the National Computing Centre in Manchester. She was briefed in some of the early cases on copyright in computer software including Total Information Processing Systems Limited v. Daman Limited  FSR 171 and IBCOS Computers Ltd v. Barclays Mercantile Highland Finance Ltd  F.S.R. 265. Similarly she was briefed in some of the early computer supply contracts such as Comyn Ching v Radius (1997). In 1986 she founded the Northern branch of the Society for Computers of Law and served as its chair for 4 years. She read papers at several international conferences including the IBA in Vienna in 1984 and Strasbourg in 1989 and the ICC in Madrid in 1986. She contributed a number of publications including the first sections on computer law and data protection to Atkin’s Court Forms and the Encyclopaedia of Forms and Precedents.
Jane Lambert continues to specialize in the above issues and claims particular expertise in copyright in computer programs and databases, telecommunications regulation and escrow (source code, private key and website deposit agreements). She continues to contribute articles and case notes on computer supply cases and she is in considerable demand as a speaker (see her article on Computer Supply Contracts).
Whenever there is a significant development of the law relating to ICT, or whenever we discover a point of law that we would like to share with the industry and the industry’s other professional advisors, we will at least blog it. If we think it is sufficiently important we may even publish an article or special feature on the topic. Also, from time to time we hold conferences and seminars on the legal issues affecting ICT.
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