Sunday, 22 April 2012

Time to learn computing

So as our technology practice grows, we find that we are being forced to brush up (or in my case, just acquire some!) knowledge on the concept of  'cloud computing'. Now if you're anything like me, i.e. not a technophobe but not exactly on the cutting edge of every new technological development, then the term 'cloud computing' might be a bit hazy for you. One of my colleagues who is very 'techy' - although I doubt he would appreciate that tag! - explained the concept in very simple terms for me.

Basically he said to imagine 'the cloud' as a virtual filing cabinet - so basically, you can store music/documents etc in the cloud, instead of having, say, a physical hard drive to back them up on. There are some free cloud providers or you can pay for them.The main benefit is, though that it means your files are accessible anywhere - it means you don't have to be on your home PC, for example, to access that Word document you were working on last night. And so on and so forth.

Not surprisingly, however, with this major new concept comes a whole host of legal issues, everything from data protection and data security, to environmental concerns - indeed only this weekend Greenpeace have spoken out about concerns that big companies who provide cloud services, are using too much coal as opposed to 'cleaner' sources.

One of the issues of most interest to me in terms of the intellectual property research I often do, is the implications for copyright infringement - who is responsible for illegal material stored within the cloud - is it the provider? Indeed this is something that is still under debate in terms of who is responsible for preventing illegal material being downloaded - is it the internet service provider? There's also issues surrounding the processing of personal data. With all of these rapidly changing technologies comes new and unexplored legal issues.

I don't think this is an area that I will ever become a specialist in, but it certainly looks like there is no getting away from the increasing number of questions we are receiving in the law library with respect of this topic - therefore I think it may be  a case of, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em....

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