Planning Your Courses

Information Law Curriculum: Information Technology, Intellectual Property, and Digital Practice

Information Law explores how law shapes the creation and dissemination of information and technological innovation as well as how new communication technologies, tools and media are affecting the law and social relations. We divide Information Law into three distinct sub-fields:

  • Intellectual Property Law, which includes copyright, trademark, patent, trade secret law and topics relating to legal protections for creative expression and invention.
    • For more information on patent law curriculum click here.
  • Information Technology Law, also known as cyberlaw, which covers the law of electronic commerce and the law of electronic democracy and government. Tech Law focuses on the law of the Internet.
  • Digital Practice, which examines the changing impact of information technology on law, lawyering and law practice.

While Media Law and Media Regulation are both information law subjects, these are treated in greater detail in separate sections.

  • Intellectual Property Law teaching at New York Law School focuses on the three major federal statutes (patent, copyright and trademark) and a wide range of related international, state and contract law protections for intangible creative works. Our teaching of intellectual property also focuses on the role technology plays in promoting and/or hindering creativity and innovation. While the Introduction to Intellectual Property course teaches the fundamentals of IP law, a variety of advanced courses offer an intensive look at each of the major statutory areas as well as specific industries, including art, entertainment, publishing and sports. Doctrinal courses are complemented by “hands on” skills courses: Intellectual Property Licensing and Drafting and the E-Democracy and E-Government Law Lab Course, which provide students the opportunity to develop strategies for the protection of intellectual property assets. While some intellectual property lawyers are specialty patent lawyers, many more lawyers serve the intellectual property needs of clients in combination with general business or litigation advising. Other lawyers work within relevant industries or in government while still others use their intellectual property knowledge to create their own companies and businesses and design their own creative products. Intellectual Property Law is as much about how to give information away and make it available as it is about restricting rights to it. The savvy lawyer understands when filing for statutory intellectual property protection is or is not useful. New York Law School teaches its students to recognize intangible assets and to develop strategies for enhancing creativity, profitability and innovation.
  • The Internet is changing everything, including law and law practice. Information law and Cyberlawcourses are at the core of this area. They look at how changes in technology have altered previously established balances in legal doctrine. And they discuss how the Internet poses new questions regarding jurisdiction, the roles played by communication intermediaries, and how social ordering occurs online. Related courses explore how new technologies can be exploited, for good or ill, by the legal profession and law enforcement officials. Mastery of all these issues entails becoming familiar both with intellectual property law and with the way in which the new technologies operate. You don’t have to be a techie to learn a lot from the Information Technology Law curriculum — but the best lawyers in the field do not shrink from understanding how things actually work. A background in Information Technology Law can lead in many different directions. Both large and small firms regularly represent companies that are developing innovative technologies or using the Internet to engage with the market. In house legal positions at both large and small companies often require the ability to oversee a portfolio of intellectual property, to understand and avoid security risks posed by the Internet, and to exploit new opportunities presented by a global marketplace. Many government agencies offer employment opportunities for lawyers who want to grapple with the challenge of regulating new technologies or of using new technologies to enhance governmental efficiency and effectiveness. Some lawyers use their familiarity with both the law and with the new technologies to create new tools for legal practitioners or to start businesses that exploit the increasing potential of networked software code. A common thread running through this area is that we have to think about how technology changes law, as well as how law regulates and changes technology. Because so many of these questions are new, students have an opportunity to influence the ongoing debates among professionals in this area. We encourage students to conduct in depth research and engage in focused projects to find innovative answers to these new questions. We encourage students in this area to think about designing new systems as well as new legal doctrines. Technology Law is continuously changing — there is something new for both students and professors to learn every day. That is one reason why specializing in this area makes for a lively and interesting professional career.
  • We are living in an information society. Digital technology today is changing the way we produce, store, and distribute information. This in turn is changing the way we do business, the way we do politics, the way we socialize and play, the way we learn, the way we think and create, and the way we study and practice law. We offer a complement of courses focused on training the lawyer for practice in the digital age. From Visual Persuasion in the Law to the E-Government and E-Democracy Law Lab Course to Cybercrime to Advocacy and the Big Case, New York Law School provides curricular and extra-curricular opportunities for the aspiring lawyer to learn how to use new tools in the practice of law. The new lawyer knows how to wield media and technology as well as verbal and visual rhetoric and written texts in defense of her client and in pursuit of social justice. Our students learn to create video closing arguments, to make software to solve a policy problem and to understand the technologies being used in government, courts, legislatures and law offices today. Training in law practice technologies allows every student, regardless of his or her practice area, to develop the skills that are necessary for effective lawyering in contemporary society. The acquisition of these practical skills gives students a competitive edge which makes them more attractive to potential employers.

The Information Law Curriculum

Core courses: The core courses in this area are: Introduction to Intellectual Property, Cyberlaw and Information Law. Information Law maps out a broad range of topics associated with law’s impact on, and its ongoing adaptation to, the electronic production, manipulation, storage, and dissemination of information. Cyberlaw covers the applicability of traditional legal doctrine to new technology and technological solutions to legal problems. Cyberlaw includes what might also be termed the law of electronic commerce. The Introduction to Intellectual Property course surveys trade secret, patent, copyright and trademark law and the interrelationship between these different forms of protection for information and expression. This is a prerequisite for most upper-level intellectual property courses.

Please note: Courses on Media and Telecommunications Regulation and Media Law, while part of the Information Law Curriculum, are listed separately.

Courses for students specializing in the field: Students interested in the Information Law area should take several of the courses in each of the three topic areas. We also strongly recommend Antitrust and Administrative Law.

Students who wish to specialize in Intellectual Property should take the Introduction to Intellectual Property and one or more of: Art Law, Copyright, Innovation and the Internet, Copyright Workshop, Copyright and Literary Property, Entertainment Law, Intellectual Property Licensing and Drafting, Patent Law, Patent Claim Drafting, Publishing Law, Sports Law and Trademark Law. Intellectual Property Concentration Leaders: Professors Rudolph J.R. Peritz and Beth Simone Noveck

Students who wish to specialize in Cyber or Technology Law should take Cyberlaw or Information Law and one or more of the following courses: Cybercrime, Cyberterror and Digital Law Enforcement, E-Government and E-Democracy Law and Lab, Federal Regulation of Electronic Media. Students may also consider an Independent Study in technology law where the student can write a paper or do a hands-on, legal technology project in connection with the Institute for Information Law and Policy. Cyberlaw Concentration Leaders: Professors David R. Johnson and Beth Simone Noveck

Students who concentrate on digital practice skills should take Introduction to Intellectual Property plus Visual Persuasion in the Law, E-Democracy and E-Government Law Lab, Advocacy, Media and the Big Case, Newsgathering and the Law and other courses listed under Media Law. Information Law Concentration Leaders: Professor Richard Sherwin and David R. Johnson.

Important note for all students: Students should bear in mind that practicing law in ANY field today requires an understanding of how technology affects that area of law and its practice. Also all law firms, corporations and government agencies increasingly use new technology in doing their work. Therefore we cannot stress enough the importance for every student of courses such as Cyberlaw and Information Law. Furthermore, all forms of law practice necessitate being able to recognize intellectual property assets. A solid grounding in the basics of intellectual property is an essential skill for every lawyer, which is why we stress Introduction to Intellectual Property. Finally, students should bear in mind that other courses, including contracts, commercial transactions, bankruptcy, tax, labor, international and comparative law as well as administrative and antitrust law may be helpful for the practice of law in these areas.