32099 - Computer Law T

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2015/2016

Learning outcomes

The course intends to provide future engineers with the essential instruments to: a) become aware of the existence of legal issues connected with information and communication technologies; b) understand how to be able to develop and use such technologies in a law-abiding manner; c) develop the ability to autonomously manage projects by also understanding the related legal aspects; d) interact with lawyers and legal experts in a qualified way.

Course contents

Introduction to the course

Why should an engineer study the law? Objectives of the course. Structure of the course and lecture programme.

Basic legal concepts

What is the law. The concept of legal norm. The sources of law. Effectiveness of the law in time and in space. Criteria for the application of the law. Interpretation of the law. Relevance of court decisions. Natural and legal persons. Legal capacity and capacity to act. Obligations. Liability. Guided analysis of laws and court decisions.

Access and consultation of legal sources

The search for legal information: what to search and where to search for. Official and non-official sources. On-line and off-line legal databases. Institutional websites. Legal portals. The sources of the Bologna University Library System (SBA, Sistema Bibliotecario di Ateneo). Legal journals, codes and manuals. Guided search in legal databases. Training in the search for legal sources.


The legal framework on copyright in the Italian legal system. Software, databases, multimedia works, websites. Proprietary and Open Source software. The ownership of software developed within research projects/in a company/on the basis of a professional consulting contract. Musical and cinematographic rights. Peer to peer. Digital Rights Management. Protection of domain names. Sanctions. Guided analysis of case studies and court decisions.

Industrial property

The Consolidation act on industrial property. Trademarks and patents. Patent protection of software. The software for the functioning of machines and industrial plants. Comparison between the European and U.S. regulations. Patent applications. The claims. National and international patent databases. Patent searches; guided analysis of patent examples.

Software contracts

The concept of contract. Legal requirements of the contract. Voidness and voidability of contracts. Nominate and innominate contracts. Main types of contracts useful for the engineer. Transfer of the economic rights on software. Software licenses, open source licenses. Creative commons. Software development contracts. Contracts for the provision of information systems (hosting, housing). Guided analysis of contracts and relevant clauses.

Data protection and security

The legal concepts of privacy and confidentiality. The processing of personal data in the Information Society: general principles. Information obligation and consent. Rights of the data subject. Sensitive Data. Minimum and adequate security measures. The drafting of the Security Policy Document (DPS). Spamming. Privacy in electronic communication services. RFID. SMS and MMS. Wireless networks. Phishing. Identity theft. User profiling on the Internet. Sanctions.Guided analysis of information documents, privacy clauses.

Electronic/digital signatures and electronic documents

Documents and signatures: basic legal principles. Digital signatures and cryptography: some technical notes. Electronic signatures: types and legal discipline. The electronic document: definition, validity and legal relevance, admissibility as evidence before court. The legal validity of e-mails, web pages, electronic registers. The certification of digital signatures. Certified e-mail (PEC). Optical archiving and conservation of electronic documents. Guided analysis of cases and court decisions.

Electronic commerce

Types of electronic commerce. Information Society Services. Obligations and responsibilities of on-line service providers. Liability of intermediaries (mere conduit, caching, hosting). Commercial communications. Contracts made with electronic means. Electronic payments. The protection of consumers on-line. Right of withdrawal from on-line contracts for consumers. Vexatious clauses. Resolution of on-line disputes. Guided analysis of cases, e-commerce web sites and on-line contract clauses.

Computer crimes

Basic elements of criminal law: concepts of crime, fault and intentional wrongdoing, the principle of strict application. Illicit access to an IT system. Detention and diffusion of codes of access to IT systems. Damaging or interruption of an IT or distance-communication system. Illicit interference in electronic communications. IT fraud. Guided analysis of court decisions.


The teaching material will consist of the slides projected during the lectures, in articles provided by the professor and on-line papers. The material will be made available on the Bologna University AMS Campus website http://campus.unibo.it.

Teaching methods

Front lectures held by the professor. During the lectures the students will analyse practical cases and make exercises.

Assessment methods

The exam will be in oral form: the candidate will be asked some questions on the topics examined during the lectures on the basis of the teaching materials provided.

Teaching tools

Beamer, screen, personal computer, on-line legal databases, Internet connection.

Office hours

See the website of Claudia Cevenini