IST 432 Fall 2015 Syllabus

Basic Course Information

Course Title: IST 432: Legal and Regulatory Environment of Information Science and Technology
Class Section: 1
Class Meetings: MW 2:30-3:45p in 206 IST Building
Credits: 3

Course Description

New information technologies are creating a global economy heavily dependent upon networked information, hardware, software, and electronic commerce, which calls for adaptation of existing legal and business practices. In many cases, these new technologies pose problems with which existing laws or legislation are inadequate to cope, but the complexity of the environment makes new solutions elusive. This course examines the legal, regulatory, and political environment within which intellectual property rights and e-commerce in the information technology environment are evolving. These include examination of contracting issues, licensing of information and products, data protection, patents, cyberspace regulation, and implications for personal privacy. The course also focuses on where technology is making regulation difficult by challenging previous concepts upon which our legal and regulatory systems depend.

IST 432 serves as a required course for the Information Context: People, Organizations, and Society option and as an elective for the other options in the IST major. It is also a required course for the SRA major. Additionally, it can serve as an elective for related programs in other colleges.

Reading Assignments

A number of assigned readings will be available in ANGEL. You do not need to purchase a textbook for this course.

We participate in Penn State’s Student Newspaper Readership Program, through which you’ll get complimentary access to the Digital New York Times and several other newspapers. You should read the Times every day to stay abreast of current developments relating to security and risk analysis; I’ll also highlight links of interest.

If you’re interested in learning more about cyberlaw, here are some links of interest:

Course Objectives

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Compare and contrast the forms of business organizations and business models available in the Internet and technology sectors
  • Summarize the legal process and explain how judges and lawyers use critical reasoning
  • Compare, contrast, and evaluate the various types of intellectual property protections
  • Apply contract and employment law principles to real-world issues in the Internet and technology sectors
  • Describe applicable laws and governmental regulations relating to digital privacy, security, and computer crime

This course is organized into five units of varying length. Objectives for each unit are listed below:

  • Unit 1: Business Formation and Business Models
    • Compare and contrast the forms of business organizations (sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, etc.)
    • Explain examples of market and nonmarket innovation catalysts
    • Critique the prevailing Internet business models (free, freemium, subscription, donations, pay what you want, etc.)
    • Summarize the importance of business plans for entrepreneurs
    • Compare the roles of corporate directors, officers, and investors
    • Summarize the processes for changes in corporation ownership and exit strategies
  • Unit 2: Legal Process and Critical Reasoning
    • Explain sources of American law (primarily federal and state constitutions, statutes, regulations, and common law)
    • Illustrate the interaction of and relationship between various court systems (federal and state, trial and appellate)
    • Develop case briefs based on assigned judicial opinions
    • Describe the basic steps in litigation, from the development of a dispute through the pleading, trial, and appeal processes
    • Describe jurisdictional issues that arise when business is conducted electronically, rather than face-to-face
    • Compare and contrast forms of alternative dispute resolution, including negotiation, mediation, and arbitration
  • Unit 3: Intellectual Property
    • Describe the policy rationales underlying trademarks
    • Discuss how trademark law relates to Internet domain name disputes
    • Determine where marks fall on the trademark distinctiveness spectrum
    • Explain the constitutional basis for copyright and patent law
    • Debate the pros and cons of various scopes and exclusivity periods under copyright and patent law
    • Evaluate the effectiveness of various measures taken to protect trade secret status
  • Unit 4: Transactional Law
    • Explain general contract law principles, including the purpose of contracts, contract formation, contract performance, breach, and contract remedies
    • Classify examples of free and open source software agreements
  • Unit 5: Regulatory, Compliance, and Liability Issues
    • Discuss the relationship between laws and regulations
    • Identify several ways antitrust law have been applied to online activities
    • Explain the requirements for a state to obtain tax jurisdiction over an out-of-state business operating online
    • Describe various ways that governments have sought to regulate Internet content, including user-generated content
    • Describe constitutional sources of the right to privacy, and common law torts for the invasion of privacy
    • Explain the key federal laws that regulate privacy, including the GLBA, COPPA, HIPAA, and ECPA
    • Outline the key elements of a crime
    • Explain how the Internet has impacted the possibilities for and execution of criminal conduct
    • Discuss the laws under which cybercrimes may be prosecuted
    • Describe the importance of technology transfer and licensing agreements

Teaching Team


Name: Marc Friedenberg (please just call me “Marc”)
Office Hours: Tuesdays 9–11a; Wednesdays 1:00–2:15p; or by appointment. I’m usually very flexible with timing or if you want to meet by phone, Skype, etc., as well.
Twitter@straymarcs. Follow this account to get notified when I post links that I think you might find interesting (with hashtag #ist432)
Web Site
Office Location: 101L IST Building (directions)
Office Phone: 814–863–0251

Teaching Assistant

Name: Alex Brown
Phone: 814–483–6379
Office Hours: Mondays 4–5p at Reese’s Cafe, or by appointment.

Learning Assistant

Name: Rob DelFranco
Phone:  610-657-0907
Office Hours: By appointment


Our schedule is available in the following Google SheetPlease note that all assignments are due on Sunday at 11:55pET.


Most assignments are collected within ANGEL, although a few will be submitted via Turnitin. Please see the class policies on assignments, below.

Score Tracking Table

AssignmentPointsQuantityPoints (Total)
Case Check Questions1016160
Response Essays20 or 305120
Quick Exercises10440

I’ll be taking attendance at every class, using the ANGEL attendance PIN system. Attendance isn’t directly a part of your grade, but I’ll be using it throughout the semester to help me keep track of who might be falling behind. If you miss a lot of class without a good explanation, I reserve the right to take that into account in your final grade (I will be fair about it, I promise).

Letter Grade Table

Letter GradeMin. Points

A little bit of additional detail about our assignments is below. More detailed information will be provided during the semester.


Each multiple-choice, true-false, fill-in-the-blank, and short essay quiz builds on previous course material, but is technically not cumulative. See my study tips. Excused students have one week to make up quizzes. I try to get graded quizzes back to you within a few days. You will be allowed to use both sides of a single-sheet (8.5“ x 11”) of personally hand-written notes (i.e., no photocopies, printing, etc.) during the quiz, but not the textbook or any other materials.

Activities and Quick Exercises

We will have a variety of activities throughout the semester. Although studying the law invariably involves a lot of reading and writing, these activities are designed to offer some “hands-on” learning opportunities and to provide a little change of pace.

Response Essays

Response essays are relatively short writing assignments prompted by our textbook or by outside readings that I will provide in ANGEL.

Case Check Questions

For approximately 15 of the cases that we’ll be reading in the textbook this semester, I’ve prepared short, targeted questions to help you understand the case. These assignments are worth 10 points each and will be graded primarily on the basis of effort; there is no minimum word count. You’ll get my model answers for the questions immediately after you submit your answers; I think it’s a really good idea to complete the case check questions before taking the quiz each week.

Emerging Trends

This assignment will replace the quiz for the lesson in which you complete the assignment; thus, it is worth 40 points. You can choose a group of five other students to work with. Each group of six students will then select an emerging trend or current event in the area of cyberlaw (see the links in the “Required Text” section of the syllabus for possible sources to help you identify these areas; you may also wish to consult the IST librarian). Starting in week 9 of the semester, two groups per week will create a VoiceThread presentation and related materials on an emerging trend, which will then be discussed in class. The following timeline provides further details on what is expected for each presentation:

  • First few weeks of class
    • I’ll ask you to identify who is on your team; I’ll help people form teams if they’re having trouble.
    • Scheduling information will be posted in the Emerging Trends Schedule page.
  • Milestone 1: Monday of the week before your presentation is due
    • Have one member of the team send an ANGEL message to all course faculty and to all members of your team. In the email, provide a link or reference to one news article describing a current event that demonstrates the emerging trend (ex: Lawsuits against Ashley Madison over hack face tough road). Then provide the citation to a judicial opinion that you think is relevant in this area (ex: Krottner v. Starbucks, 628 F.3d 1139 (9th Cir. 2010), a case dealing with when people whose privacy rights may have been infringed are allowed to sue). I will review your link and citation to ensure that they are appropriate for the class.
  • Milestone 2: Friday at 11:55p on the week your presentation is due
    • Reply to your team’s post on the emerging trends discussion forum. That single post should contain the following numbered sections:
      1. name of your emerging trend
      2. a link to the current event or article describing the emerging trend, so that your classmates have an opportunity to review it.
      3. a link to your VoiceThread presentation. Your VoiceThread presentation should contain:
        • A title slide with your team name, emerging trend, and names of the members of your team
        • A 3-5 minute overview of the trend, based on your research. This could include current events and related analysis. I encourage you to use visual aids or even video clips in this section of your VoiceThread.
        • A case brief for the case you’ve selected that relates to your emerging trend. This will involve, at a minimum, slides for citation, facts, issue, decision, and reason. If there are separate opinions, of course include those as well. Then you can include your own opinions/analysis/commentary on the case, as well. This portion of the video should also take 3-5 minutes.
        • Each member of the team should narrate a portion of the VoiceThread, while logged in under his or her own account (that way, we can tell who is speaking)
        • Please set your VoiceThread presentation’s settings to automatically advance to the next slide
      4. five discussion questions that you will use in class to guide the discussion after your presentation. Ideally these questions will be open-ended and will spark a lively debate.
  • Milestone 3: Day of in-class presentation
    • Everyone in the class will be asked to view your VoiceThread presentation and related materials, so we’ll assume that they have done that. Your presentation can simply begin with your discussion questions. I’d like each person in the group to participate in moderating the discussion, such as by asking questions, calling on students, asking following up questions, or generally helping guide the discussion. Barring exceptional circumstances, everyone in the group will receive the same grade.

Extra Credit

I currently have no plans to offer extra credit opportunities during the semester, but if that changes, I will certainly let you know.

Class Policies


Individual vs. group assignments

All assignments (quizzes, projects, etc.) are considered individual assignments and not group assignments unless I clearly specify otherwise. If you are having problems, get in touch with me as soon as possible (seriously, I don’t mind at all).

Late assignments

You’re responsible for completing your own work and submitting it as directed on the assignment. Since assignments are noted in the syllabus and are given well in advance, I encourage you to complete assignments well before the due date. Late assignments will result in a 10% point reduction per day. Note that assignments will not be accepted after feedback or answers have been provided to the class (typically a few days after the assignment’s due date).

Grade Distribution and ANGEL Gradebook

  1. Student grades are posted in the ANGEL Gradebook, and students are responsible for monitoring their grades there.
  2. In accordance with the University policy AD 11 on Confidentiality of Student Records, grades or other student records will NEVER be provided by telephone or to third parties.
  3. Written documentation of any problems related to the assignment of scores must be brought to the attention of the teaching team within one week of the date the scores were first reported to students.


I will do everything in my power to help you do well in this course and to master the material. Do not hesitate to call, e-mail, or visit me at any time for help. I’m also always happy to have a detailed discussion about how I think you’re doing in the class, or why you got a certain grade on an assignment. I’m a firm believer that you learn the most from your mistakes, so I encourage you to closely review and think about the feedback I give you.

Legal Advice

I’m not able to provide legal advice or guidance to students. If you have legal questions, you should consult an attorney.


Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

Writing Tutoring Available

Need help with writing? You can have an online meeting with a writing tutor. Both you and the tutor will use Blackboard Collaborate software to look over your writing and send real-time chat messages or use microphones to engage in a conversation about it. More information is available here.

University Policies

Please review these university policies of interest, which are incorporated here by reference.

Last Modified Oct 24, 2015 @ 11:46 am