IST 432 Fall 2014 Syllabus

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.

Basic Course Information

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


Name: Marc Friedenberg (please just call me “Marc”)
E-mail: 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
Office Phone: 814–863–0251
Office Hours: Tuesdays, 10a-11:30; Thursdays; 1:30-3p. Because the beginning and end of the semester are usually the busiest, during the first and last two weeks of the semester, office hours will be lengthened to Tuesdays 9a-1p and Thursdays 12:30-4p. I’m also pretty flexible for appointments in person, at the cafe, by Skype or phone, etc. as your schedule allows; please don’t hesitate to contact me to set something up.

Learning Assistant

Name: John Kissell
Office Hours: Fridays, 12-1p, Reese’s Cafe
Phone: 814-935-8242

Required Text

CyberLaw Text and CasesFerrera et al., CyberLaw: Text & Cases (3d Ed. 2012), ISBN-13: 978-0-324-39972-1. Rather than buying a paper copy, you may wish to rent the digital version of this text (check for pricing options).

This course requires a significant amount of reading from this text (as well as other posted readings), so it’s important that you get yourself access to a copy of it.

A copy of the book is also available on reserve at Pattee Library.

Course Objectives

This course is organized into five units of varying length:

  1. Business Formation and Business Models
  2. Legal Process and Critical Reasoning
  3. Intellectual Property
  4. Transactional Law
  5. Regulatory, Compliance, and Liability Issues

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


Our schedule is available in the following Google Doc:


Unless otherwise noted, the assignment submissions are due at 11:55p on the due date. Most assignments are collected within ANGEL, although a few may require a hardcopy addition. Please see the classroom policies on assignments, below.

Score Tracking Table

AssignmentPointsQuantityPoints (Total)
Response Essays305150
VoiceThread Case Brief1001100
Written Case Brief50150
Intro Discussion Forum10110
Student Data Survey10110

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.


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.

VoiceThread Case Brief

In this group assignment, you’ll use VoiceThread to narrate and record a case brief for a case that I assign you.

Written Case Brief

Before we record the VoiceThread Case Brief, you’ll get practice creating case briefs by writing one for a relatively simple case.


You are paying a lot of money to be enrolled in this course, so you owe it to yourself to attend every class meeting and to participate in classroom discussions. I’ll take attendance in every class (via ANGEL). A few other notes:

  • Students are permitted three personal absences (you don’t have to be sick, or provide any good reason for missing class, but I will be sad if you don’t have one).
  • Please note that job interviews are not counted as excused absences.
  • For each personal absence after the first two, come see me during office hours.
  • If you’ve used your three personal days but are still sick, send an email to “All Faculty” in ANGEL so we can update the attendance records.
  • Penn State’s class attendance policy states that students who opt to miss a class to participate in a University-sanctioned activity are responsible for any work missed during the absence. If you will be missing class as part of a University-sanctioned activity, please complete a class absence form.
  • Please plan to arrive a few minutes early and to remain until class is dismissed to help avoid disrupting class discussions or your classmates’ concentration.
  • During class, please don’t use computers or mobile devices for things that aren’t related to class.

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).

Technical difficulties

To minimize technical difficulty in submitting work, I strongly suggest using the PSU ITS computer labs. You may use personal computers at your own risk. If you have technical difficulties please come to office hours for help prior to the due date. Plan to complete assignments, since ANGEL has a bad habit of becoming uncooperative at the worst possible times (also, as a proud Mac user it pains me to say that ANGEL seems to like Internet Explorer the most).

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.

Odds and Ends

  • I’d like to spend at least five minutes in office hours with every student in the first few weeks of the semester, just so I can get to know you and what you’re looking to get out of the class. Please stop by when you are able.
  • The first item in the Lessons tab on ANGEL is a discussion forum entitled “General Discussion.” If you have a question or comment that you think might be relevant to the entire class, you can post it there. You may post anonymously in this discussion forum if you wish.
  • 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.

University Policies

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

Last Modified May 5, 2015 @ 8:16 am