Comp 317-001 and 417-001

Social, Ethical and Legal Issues in Computing

Peter Dordal, Loyola University CS Dept

Summer 2017: Tuesdays and Thursdays 5:30-8:30, Corboy 302

Text: The textbook will be A Gift of Fire, by Sara Baas and Timothy Henry, published by Prentice Hall. Officially we're down to use the brand-new 2017 5th edition. I've been told my copy of the 5th edition has arrived at the office, but I have not physically seen it yet. For this and other reasons, you may also use the 4th Edition, 2012. (That said, I do recommend the newer edition, even if sight unseen, because things change so fast.) This book is also available in an e-book format.

There will be three writing assignments during the course; the first writing assignment will have a rewriting component, as you resubmit your first draft.

There will also be one debate/presentation assignment.

There will not be a final exam.

My general course groundrules are here. Loyola's academic integrity rules are here.

You are expected to be familiar with the rules for quoting other sources in papers.

Notes and Readings

Notes Organized by Topic

Filesharing and Ethical Theory: classes 1 and 2

Copyright Laws and Lawsuits: classes 2 and 3

Privacy from the government: class 4

Privacy from others: classes 5 and 6

Free Speech and the Internet: classes 7 and 8

Software Patents: classes 9 and 10

Crime and Hacking: classes 11 and 12

Trust and Licensing (and other miscellaneous topics): class 12

Course notes

Most content is now in the files above.

Class 1: Tues, May 23
Class 2: Thurs, May 25
Class 3: Tues, May 30
Class 4: Thurs, June 1
Class 5: Tues, June 6
Class 6: Thurs, June 8
Class 7: Tues, June 13
Class 8: Thurs, June 15
Class 9: Tues, June 20
Class 10: Thurs, June 22
Class 11: Tues, June 27
Class 12: Thurs, June 29


Before class 1, read
These section numbers work for both the 5th and the 4th editions!

Before class 2, read all of chapter 1 and 4.1-4.3.

Paper topics

Paper 1: DMCA Takedown or Music Sampling
    First draft due Monday, June 5
    Final draft due: Monday, June 12

Paper 2: The Third-Party Doctrine (Privacy) or Defamation Policy (Speech)
    Due: Wednesday June 21

Paper 3: Software Patents or Computer Crime
    Due: Saturday, July 1

We will consider some of the topics listed below.

Articles, references, and links


Don't Talk To Cops, Part 1, James Duane, Regent University Law School

And an interesting followup: Reminder: Please Shut Up (advice from an attorney)


Association for Computing Machinery -- The professional organization for computer professionals (oriented towards programmers). See their USACM subgroup for public-policy issues. See also the ACM Code of Ethics.

Electronic Frontier Foundation -- Founded to fight for citizens' rights in the areas of privacy, cyberspace freedom (specifically, freedom of speech), copyrights, and encryption.

American Civil Liberties Union -- Not specifically concerned with cyberspace law, but nonetheless very involved in the fight against the Communications Decency Act. The ACLU has long fought against censorship in any form, and for personal liberties in general.

Electronic Privacy Information Center -- They are concerned with both government surveillance (directly and by searching your records), the scope of government databases, and encryption.

Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility -- "CPSR is a public-interest alliance of computer scientists and others interested in the impact of computer technology on society." Includes privacy issues but also professional responsibilities of programmers and workplace empowerment issues.

Ethics Center for Engineering and Science A useful compendium of ethics case studies and other information pertaining to science and engineering.

US Copyright office home page All sorts of information on copyright legislation, including the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

2600, the Hacker Quarterly, leader in the fight for DeCSS.