IST 432 Spring 2016 Syllabus

Basic Course Information

Course Title: IST 432: Legal and Regulatory Environment of Information Science and Technology
Class Section: 1
Class Meetings: MWF 11:15:-12:05p in 113 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:

  • Unit 1: Introduction to Cyberlaw
  • Unit 2: Legal Process and Critical Reasoning
  • Unit 3: Intellectual Property
  • Unit 4: Transactional Law
  • Unit 5: Regulatory, Compliance, and Liability Issues

Teaching Team


Name: Marc Friedenberg (please just call me “Marc”)
Office Hours: Tuesdays 11a–12:30p; Fridays 10–11a; 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

Learning Assistant

Name: Jordan Dunbar
Office Hours: Tuesdays 2:30–3:30p and Fridays 12:15-1:15p, at Reese’s Cafe


Our schedule is available in the following Google Doc.


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)
Student Data Survey10110
Early Course Evaluation10110
Response Essays30260
Unit ExamsUnit 2: 60. Unit 3: 80. Unit 4: 50. Unit 5: 60.4250
Case Briefs356210
Emerging Trends PresentationMilestone 1: 15. Milestone 2: 50. Milestone 3: 40. Milestone 4: 100. Milestone 5: 35.5240

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, and fill-in-the-blank quiz builds on previous course material, but is technically not cumulative. See my study tips. 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 any other materials.

If you have an excused absence for a day when we have a quiz in class, you can make up the quiz during office hours immediately upon your return.

Unit Exams

Unit exams are unlike quizzes because they:

  • are cumulative (i.e., they cover all of the material in the unit, and not just one lesson)
  • are primarily focused on application of the law to a scenario, or your analysis of the law, rather than merely recalling what the law is
  • must be taken without any handwritten notes

The quizzes are an outstanding study tool for the unit exams, however.

If you have an excused absence for a day when we have an exam in class, you can make up the exam during office hours immediately upon your return.

Response Essays

Response essays are relatively short writing assignments prompted by our assigned readings or additional readings that I may post.

Case Briefs

Reading judicial opinions is one of the best ways to understand the law. I’ll be assigning you cases (or excerpts of cases) to read, and asking you to brief those cases according to a format that I’ll provide. I’ll also ask you to provide peer feedback on another student’s brief; your grade will be based on both your brief and the feedback you provide.

Emerging Trends

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). With your group, you’ll be creating a VoiceThread presentation and related materials on an emerging trend. After refining your presentation based on my feedback, other groups in the class will watch your presentation and prepare answers to discussion questions that you’ve posed. We’ll use the following milestones:

  • Milestone 1: team selection
  • Milestone 2: initial selection of emerging trend/news story/case, presented as a VoiceThread
  • Milestone 3: revision of milestone 2, including discussion questions for the class
  • Milestone 4: submit final VoiceThread
  • Milestone 5: comment on other groups’ VoiceThreads; peer review of your own team

More details on each of these milestones will be provided throughout the semester.

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 Apr 22, 2016 @ 8:02 am