IST 432 Spring 2016 (WD) Syllabus

Basic Course Information

Course Title: IST 432: Legal and Regulatory Environment of Information Science and Technology
Class Section: 1
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.

Required Text

All required readings will be posted on the course Web site throughout the semester.

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 course topics; 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: Wednesdays from 8p to 9p ET and by appointment in our Adobe Connect meeting room. Attending office hours is completely optional. I also have office hours for my in-residence students on Tuesdays from 11 to 11:30a and Fridays from 10 to 11a; feel free to call my office during that time.
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

Learning Assistant

Name: Rebecca Tsang
Office Hours: Thursdays from 7p to 8p ET in our Adobe Connect meeting room


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 may 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

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.

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 Jan 11, 2016 @ 7:31 am