Specialist Certificate in Law (Digital Law and Technological Innovation)
What will I study?
Students must complete eight subjects in total.
Students who do not have a law degree from a common law jurisdiction must complete Fundamentals of the Common Law, as well as seven subjects from the prescribed list.
Students with a law degree from a common law jurisdiction must complete at least seven subjects from the prescribed list and may choose an eighth subject from those available in the Master of Laws (excluding Fundamentals of the Common Law and the Minor Thesis).
Subject timing and format
The Melbourne Law Masters program has been designed around the busy schedules of working professionals. Subjects are offered from February to December each year.
Most subjects are taught intensively, giving you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the subject content. Intensive subjects are typically taught over five days, either from Monday–Friday or Wednesday–Tuesday, excluding the weekend. This intensive format enables students from interstate or overseas to fly to Melbourne to attend class. Semester-length subjects are generally taught for two hours in the evening each week during the semester.
Subjects are taught in an interactive seminar style and class sizes normally range from 20 to 30 students.
As a student, you will need to enrol in at least one subject per semester and will have a maximum of four years to complete the course, including any leave of absence.
Professor Jeannie Paterson
Professor & Director of Studies, Digital Law and Technological Innovation - Jeannie Paterson
Law and legal practice are changing rapidly through the effects of new digital technologies on markets, the public sector and society. Melbourne Law School's new Specialist Certificate in the area of Digital Law and Technological Innovation provides law graduates with contemporary, expert insights and skill development in responding to, and indeed staying ahead of, disruptive innovation.
Jeannie Marie Paterson specialises in the areas of contracts, consumer rights and consumer credit law, as well as the role of new technologies in these fields.
Jeannie’s research covers three inter-related themes:
- Support for consumers experiencing hardship and marginalisation,
- The ethics and regulation of AI and digital technologies in consumer markets, and
- Regulatory design for protecting consumer rights and promoting safe and trustworthy technology.
Jeannie completed her BA/LLB (Hons) at ANU and her PhD at Monash University. She previously lectured at the Faculty of Law at Monash University and, prior to that time, was a solicitor at Mallesons Stephen Jaques (now King & Wood Mallesons).
Explore this course
Explore the subjects you could choose as part of this certificate.
Digital Law and Technological Innovation subjects
Students must complete 50 credit points of study from the prescribed list of subjects
- Artificial Intelligence and the Law 12.5 pts
Historically a computer was “programmed” by a human utilising a precise set of instructions. Within this paradigm the computer was able to “process” information “fed” to it and produce a particular output based on such programming and information.
The human input was clear and transparent. As artificial intelligence (AI) has evolved in concert with the internet, cloud computing, big data gathering, data storage and data processing capabilities and the ubiquitous uptake of interactive smartphones and other “smart” devices, the relationship between the computer and direct and immediate human stewardship or control of outputs has become less readily identifiable. In turn this has given rise to significant legal issues.
There are substantial legal implications of AI which require ongoing, flexible and informed responses from lawyers and legal policy makers. This subject seeks to inform practicing lawyers, legal policy makers and non-lawyers in respect of those issues and how they might be dealt with.
Principal topics include:
- Introduction to AI. What is AI? Where is AI headed?
- The legal issues raised by AI
- The ethical issues raised by AI and particular applications of AI
- Overview of current AI legal reviews underway in the USA, EU and UK and Australia’s response to these reviews
- Intellectual property issues raised by AI
- Criminal liability in respect of AI
- Civil legal liability – examination of who is (or should be) responsible/liable for AI caused loss and harm.
- Mandatory insurance schemes for loss or damage caused by autonomous robots or AI
- The legal regimes governing use of AI in security, law enforcement and military contexts
- Privacy and confidentiality implications of AI
- Digital Trade 12.5 pts
International trade is being transformed by the globalisation of the internet and the ability to move data across borders. Small businesses and firms in developing countries are using internet platforms such as eBay and Alibaba to engage in international trade. Software, music and books that used to be traded physically are now being transmitted digitally across borders; lawyers, consultants and other professional services are using the internet to reach new markets. Data analytics and cloud computing have become essential tools for firms in domestic and international markets.
This subject will examine the impact of the internet and global data flows on international trade. Students will learn about the varied and innovative ways that the internet and data enable international economic activity. Students will look at how government regulation in areas such as privacy and national security affects digital trade and will examine the balance between achieving these goals and maximising opportunities for trade, growth and jobs. Students will learn about the extent to which international trade rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and free trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement support an open internet and global data flows; will identify gaps in law and practice; and will analyse where new global norms and rules are needed. Special topics covered may include: the opportunities of digital trade for developing countries and small and medium enterprises (SMEs); challenges posed by the 'Internet of Things' and privacy regulation; and digital trade and national security.
Joshua P Meltzer is a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC and adjunct professor at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies where he teaches international trade law. He is a leading scholar on digital trade issues, consults governments, the World Bank and the World Economic Forum and was appointed an expert witness in digital trade and privacy litigation.
Principal topics include:
- Overview of the globalisation of the internet including global trends in internet access and use
- The economics of the internet - students will learn how internet access and global data flows are improving productivity, enabling innovation and expanding opportunities for global engagement
- What is the impact of the internet and data flows on international trade? This will include the role of digital platforms and the increasing importance of digital services trade
- What are the barriers to digital trade, who is erecting them and why? Students will learn about the regulatory challenges to digital trade in areas of consumer protection, financial and privacy laws and the different approaches being taken in the European Union, the United States and Australia, and consider how to achieve domestic regulatory goals while maximising digital trade
- Applying international trade law to digital trade issues and identifying the legal gaps - students will analyse where existing international trade rules apply to digital trade issues. This will include analysis of WTO agreements and cases as well as new trade rules in free trade agreements. Gaps in trade law will be identified and students will consider whether new trade rules and norms are needed and where they can be negotiated.
- Health Data Governance 12.5 pts
Data relating to an individual’s physical and mental health and condition can reveal extremely sensitive information. Valuable health data also underpins improvements in health care and can be useful for other government and commercial purposes. How can the law protect the principle of medical confidentiality and enable the data flows necessary for a modern learning healthcare system, public health, and other public interest purposes?
Health privacy and data protection expert Mark Taylor considers the relevant law and governance in Australia and comparable jurisdictions. This subject will provide students with an advanced and specialised knowledge of health data governance, including relevant privacy and data protection law. It will invite critical consideration of relevant law benchmarked against the European Union General Data Protection Regulation and other international standards, such as the Recommendation of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Council on Health Data Governance.
Principal topics include:
- Legal concepts of ‘personal health data’, ‘identifiability’, and ‘public interest’
- Transparency, informed consent, and respect for individual objection
- Confidentiality and third-party access, including family members, researcher, public health and government
- Feedback of incidental findings and the ‘right not to know’
- Oversight and approval mechanisms, with consideration of issues raised by increasing use of new techniques of machine learning and analysis of big data
- International and cross-border transfer
- Information Technology Contracting Law 12.5 pts
Information technology is critical to almost all modern organisations and processes. The development, acquisition and use of such technology raises a myriad of complex legal issues extending beyond conventional contractual issues and includes ownership rights, rights of use and risk management. This subject explores those issues with a particular emphasis on contracting and intellectual property issues associated with the development and sourcing of information technology products and services. Both lecturers are information technology lawyers with extensive practical experience acting for both providers and purchasers of such products and services.
Principal topics include:
- Overview of information technology and the Australian information technology development industry
- Roles and relationships of the various parties to information technology agreements
- Copyright protection afforded to technology products and services, including online products and services
- Open source licensing arrangements
- Patent protection afforded to information technology products and services
- Employees and contractor rights and obligations in the context of the creation and development of information technology
- Software creation, development and exploitation
- Network management, security and maintenance
- Cloud services: risks and liability
- Database and content management issues
- Privacy issues associated with the development and use of information technology goods and services
- Risk allocation and management of information technology contracts (including insurance and escrow arrangements).
- Licensing Law and Technology Transfer 12.5 pts
Technology transfer is a term used to describe the process by which skills, knowledge and intellectual property rights are moved from one person or organisation to another. Governments and businesses around the world now recognise the fundamental importance of innovation and the commercialisation of new technologies to economic prosperity. Here, technology transfer and in particular intellectual property licensing have a vital role. This subject looks at the legal and commercial issues relevant to technology transfer, with a focus on intellectual property licensing and the negotiation of licence agreements. The subject also includes the licensing of trade marks and software.
The subject lecturers have worked in the field of technology transfer for many years and bring practical perspectives to the topics covered.
Principal topics include:
- Licensing of:
- Patents and know-how
- Trade marks, including franchise agreements
- Copyright, including computer software
- Impact of competition laws
- Payments and taxes
- Contractual and commercial issues
- Negotiation of licence agreements.
- Licensing of:
- Privacy Law 12.5 pts
Privacy has been valued for centuries but now there is a resurgent interest in its protection as a result of new technologies, changing social norms and a rise of markets focused on the commodity value of information. Overlapping with the resurgent interest in privacy is a related concern about the management of data flows, especially on the part of government agencies and business organisations. The legal frameworks that deal with privacy and data protection have a long history but are coming under pressure to adapt to a more complex modern environment.
Privacy and data protection experts Professor Megan Richardson and Karin Clark explore these issues. They pay particular attention to the scope and nature of privacy protection as well as appropriate limits and exceptions, the ongoing pressures for law reform, and the practical operation of privacy and data protection laws in Australia and comparable jurisdictions.
Principal topics include:
- What is privacy?
- Conceptual and legal definitional issues
- International and comparative privacy and data protection regimes
- Protection of privacy in general law in Australia and comparable jurisdictions
- The Privacy Act 1988 (Cth): regulation of personal information held by the private and public sectors
- State/territory (especially Victorian) legislative regimes for the regulation of personal information
- Current topics in privacy law such as privacy and the media, privacy and health information, online privacy, telecommunications and surveillance privacy
- Current reform inquiries and proposals and likely reforms.
- Regulation of FinTech 12.5 pts
In recent decades, the rate of technological innovation in financial services has accelerated, posing new challenges for regulators and regulated financial services firms around the world. This course will provide a brief introduction to the existing technologies and business models used by established financial services firms and the regulatory framework that applies to them, before examining how new technologies and new business models are transforming financial services around the world. Different law reform strategies adopted by regulators in different countries will be assessed, as will business strategies of regulated firms to accelerate their rate of innovation. As national regulators confront the challenge of protecting local consumers in global markets, they may respond by collaborating with other national regulators, with extraterritorial enforcement of their laws, collaboration with private regulators, or ceding the terrain to private regulators. Although cryptocurrencies, blockchain and distributed ledger technologies may receive the most media coverage, many other case studies of disruptive 'FinTech' innovation and its regulation in both advanced and emerging economies will be examined.
Principal topics include:
- Commercial banks and bank regulators
- Global harmonization of bank regulation
- Payment systems and payment law
- Legacy technologies and internal controls
- Economics of networks and platforms
- Economic drivers of innovation
- Better regulation and new governance
- The rise of smart machines
- Evidence-based problem solving
- 'RegTech' is the new FinTech
- Faster payments/immediate payments
- Bitcoin, blockchain, distributed ledger
- FinTech regulation in the United States; United Kingdom and European Union; China; and India.
- Digital Consumer Protection Law 12.5 pts
Digital technology is changing markets and the way in which consumers interact with them. This subject investigates the challenges raised by this transformation for policies and laws that aim to protect consumers in their market dealings and for the values that underpin these regimes. It will do this through a series of case studies critically examining different features of the consumer-market exchange in a digital age and the responses by governments to date. Through the lens of these case studies, students will:
- critically consider the adequacy of traditional policy and law in responding to the challenges raised by digital technology in the consumer market;
- explore what additional types of interventions and strategies might be used in responding to the distinctive characteristics of the digital consumer market; and
- investigate and evaluate the responses of different jurisdictions, including, as relevant, Australia, India, China, ASEAN, European Union, Canada and the United States in addressing effective consumer protection in a digital age.