Internet Newsletter for Lawyers
March/April 2004, by Delia Venables

What's On My Bookshelf
by Jeremy Holt

I am a solicitor in private practice specialising in computer law. This article describes the books that I refer to most frequently when advising on internet law.

E-business: the practical guide to the law

The book that I use the most is "E-business: the practical guide to the law" by Amanda Brock (429 pages, £49.95 published by Spiro Business Guides 2003). As it is written by the first lawyer to work on Freeserve, there is lots of down to earth practical guidance. The chapters are not divided into legal areas but into the areas that affect electronic business, which is a much more sensible manner of coverage. At the end of the chapters the author has provided checklists of additional information. These are deliberately set out in a separate page format so that they can be copied to the reader's heart's content. Finally, there are 88 pages of sample terms and precedents.

Business, the Internet and the Law

Another book that I use frequently is Tolley's "Business, the Internet and the Law". When it was originally published in 1999 it was a paperback book but it is now looseleaf. It costs £78 (updated twice yearly) and is published by Butterworths LexisNexis. The general editor is the indefatigable Susan Singleton. As well as having written more than 25 books, set up her own law firm and had 5 children she probably knows as much about this area of law as anyone else in this country. Each chapter starts with an apposite quotation (the final one on taxation being by ex-President Clinton). The appendix contains a wealth of web contracts, terms and notices. This includes a very useful note for employers on legal issues relating to email, the internet and the workplace and a specimen email policy. (It would benefit all employers to read this before the stable door is forced open for the first time). Unless you go to specialist books on the subject (such as Tolley's "Managing Email and Internet Use" or "e-policy" by Michael Overly) it is surprisingly difficult to find out good examples of employee email and internet use policies.

e-contracts

One of the great joys of internet commerce for lawyers is the number of contracts that are required to get an e-commerce website off the ground (I once calculated on the back of an envelope that a normal business would require at least 16 of these). The looseleaf book "e-contracts" published by Tolley's recognises this. The general editor is again Susan Singleton and there are contributions to the book from members of solicitors S. J Berwin and Steptoe & Johnson. The chapters cover website development and services, fora and chatrooms, advertising, end-user internet access, internet selling, employment, journal content access, notices, software licences, content provision and framing agreements. The book costs £87.50 and is updated twice yearly.

DIY

Lastly, I have three different ring binders of specimen terms that I have assiduously collected from real life websites since my firm first started to advise clients on the internet in 1995. The first consists of consumer terms for the sale of goods, the second is a collection of consumer terms for the supply of services and the third covers internet-related business-to-business commercial agreements (e.g. linking agreements). In each case, for ease of reference, I have put the best example at the start of the ring binder. My personal Oscars are awarded to www.amazon.co.uk and www.silicon.com for their privacy policies and to www.ft.com for its website terms of use.

Jeremy Holt is the head of the computer law group of Clark Holt, Commercial Solicitors (www.clarkholt.com). He is Secretary of the Law Specialist group of the British Computer Society and is joint editor of the BCS' recent book "The Manager's Guide to Computer Law". In 2003 he set up, in Swindon, the only computer museum in the country (www.museumofcomputing.org.uk).
Email JeremyH@ClarkHolt.com.

Note from Delia - "The Manager's Guide to IT Law" is the book just being published by the BCS, with Jeremy Holt as joint editor, explains the legal framework relating to IT issues. There are contributions from seven authors, all experts in their field. The cost is £25, and the book can be ordered from Clare Greenslade, pubsenq@hq.bcs.org.uk.

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