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  1. 1. CS 501: Software Engineering Lecture 6 Legal Aspects of Software Engineering II
  2. 2. Administration Project Announcements
  3. 3. Trade Secrets and Non-Disclosure Agreements Trade Secret "... information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process that derives independent economic value from not being generally known and not being readily ascertainable and is subject to reasonable efforts to maintain secrecy." Uniform Trade Secrets Act Example: Microsoft source code Non-Disclosure Agreement Legal agreement not to disclose trade secrets
  4. 4. Trade Secrets <ul><li>A trade secret does not expire - as long as it is kept secret. </li></ul><ul><li>Competitors may not use secrets obtained through extraordinary means. </li></ul><ul><li>If you learn trade secrets when working for one employer, you must not disclose them to another employer. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Trademark <ul><li>Specific name or phrase </li></ul><ul><li>Unique within a line of business, in a specific country (e.g., only one electronics firm called Apple in the USA, but could be a shipping line called Apple in the USA or a different electronics firm called Apple in another country.) </li></ul><ul><li>Generic terms cannot be trademarked (e.g., Windows is currently under dispute) </li></ul><ul><li>Trademarks can be lost if they are not defended </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lost trademarks: aspirin, kleenex </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Held trademarks: Coke, Pepsi </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Privacy Invasions of privacy: • intrusion • appropriation of name or likeness • unreasonable publicity • false light Be very careful about collecting personal data without the knowledge of the individual Special legislation about privacy of children
  7. 7. Public or Private Information? <ul><li>A lot of public information is considered private </li></ul><ul><li>An increasing amount of public information available on the Internet </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reverse phone lookups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Campaign Contributions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Housing prices </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Driver’s license information and photographs </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Privacy in Email <ul><li>Legally, email is like a postal letter </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Expectation of privacy in transit </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mail loses its special protected status once it leaves the letter carrier's grasp </li></ul></ul><ul><li>For email, </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Expectation of privacy while signal travels over Internet </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Email loses its protected status at the mail server whether you have read it or not </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Privacy in the Workplace <ul><li>Test for employers/employees - “Do you have a reasonable expectation of privacy?” </li></ul><ul><li>Work-related material on business machines is definitely not private. </li></ul><ul><li>Some organizations, e.g., most universities, treat private email on business machines as private, but this is not the law. </li></ul><ul><li>Never send anything by email that you would not be </li></ul><ul><li>prepared for your employer to see. </li></ul><ul><li>As a software engineer, you may come across other people's </li></ul><ul><li>private information. Keep it private. If in doubt consult your </li></ul><ul><li>supervisor. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Business Email <ul><li>Electronic Communications Privacy Act (1986) says all business communication belongs to that business. </li></ul><ul><li>Deleting email can be ruled intentionally destroying company records. </li></ul><ul><li>An archive is worthless if it cannot be indexed effectively (in effect, saving everything can be equivalent to saving nothing). </li></ul>
  11. 11. Free Speech <ul><li>In the USA, the First Amendment protects many aspects of free speech, including news reporting, religious expression, etc., but their are major exceptions (e.g., state secrets, defamation, obscenity, racial hatred). </li></ul><ul><li>In the USA, some aspects (e.g., obscenity) are governed by state laws with big differences among states. </li></ul><ul><li>Laws in other countries may be very different (e.g., blasphemy, criticism of the government). </li></ul>
  12. 12. Special Situations <ul><li>Internet Service Providers </li></ul><ul><li>Transmit and store intellectual property that they do not own </li></ul><ul><li>A special (complex) legal framework protects them </li></ul><ul><li>If you run such a service, you need a knowledgeable lawyer </li></ul><ul><li>Ecommerce </li></ul><ul><li>Ecommerce operates across jurisdictional boundaries </li></ul><ul><li>Data is subject to various laws of privacy, security, taxation, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>If you run such a service, you need a knowledgeable lawyer. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Business Law: Personnel Every state has strict and complex laws about recruitment, hiring, termination (firing), on-job conditions, and terms and conditions of employment. If you supervise other people, you need to know the basics of these laws. Many employers run short courses for their supervisors or have a booklet with the key issues. If in doubt, consult an expert .
  14. 14. Business Law: Your Next Job ... <ul><li>Your employment contract may restrict your next job (not working for competitors, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Trade-secret information (non-disclosure agreement) </li></ul><ul><li>Contamination (knowledge of trade secrets may prevent you working on similar projects for others) </li></ul><ul><li>Ask before you accept the job! </li></ul><ul><li>Read the employment contract before you sign it! </li></ul>
  15. 15. Practical Advice <ul><li>It is often useful to read the text of a law. </li></ul><ul><li>A good source is the Cornell Legal Information Institute: http://www.law.cornell.edu/. </li></ul><ul><li>But do not try to interpret the law by yourself . You may be reading the wrong law, or not know how it has been interpreted by the courts. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Practical Advice Be aware of the law, but do not pretend to be a lawyer. Use a professional for: • Contracts and licenses (unless very simple exchange of letters) • Troubles (complaints, injunctions, subpoenas, etc.) • Personnel issues (particularly firing) • When in doubt, ask for help!

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