Murdoch's TOTW: Internet

Also called the Net. The worldwide collection of networks and gateways which use a suite of protocols to communicate with one another. The genesis of the Internet was a decentralised network called ARPANET created by the US Department of Defence in 1969 to facilitate communications in the event of a nuclear attack.

A number of other networks were connected over time, so that now the Internet offers a range of services to users, including e-mail, the World Wide Web, Usenet news, Gopher, telnet and others.

The use of an “.ie” DOMAIN NAME (qv) is controlled by the Commission for Communications Regulation: Communications Regulation (Amendment) Act 2007 s.21.

A copyright owner of a work has the right to make it available to the public; this includes making copies (including the original) of the work available to the public by wire or wireless means, in such a way that members of the public may access the work from a place and at a time chosen by them (including the making available of copies of the work through the Internet): Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 s.40(1)(a). A similar provision applies in relation to recordings of a performance (ibid s.205(5)(a)).

The first statutory reference to the Internet is believed to be the Dublin Docklands Development Authority Act 1997 which made provision for making a draft masterplan available on the World Wide Web (ibid s.18(4)). Also an initial legal framework to enable the Minister to process on-line motor tax applications has been provided for: Motor Vehicles (Duties and Licences) Act 2003 s.8.

Many companies have policies in place for their employees regarding the use of the Internet at the workplace. Such policies were brought sharply into focus when the group chief executive of the Bank of Ireland resigned from his post on 29th May 2004 - “This arises from access by me on my PC to Internet sites that contain content that infringed the group’s policy on these matters. The content accessed was not illegal but did contain links to material of an adult nature. I now understand and accept that in doing this I breached the policies of the Bank of Ireland”: resignation statement of Michael Soden in Irish Times 31st May 2004. As he said subsequently - “it was a case of curiosity killed the cat”.

The Medical Council has recognised that the Internet and practice websites can provide valuable services to patients. "The provision of information about the avilability of medical services through the media, internet or other means is generally in the public interest provided that the information is factually accurate, evidence-based and not misleading" - Medical Council - Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners (7th edition) at para 54.1.

The Irish Internet Association established in 1997 has a charter with the objective to promote and assist the development of the Internet as a medium for business in Ireland and beyond. See www.iia.ie.

For legal material sources relevant to Ireland on the Internet, see websites: Irish Government - www.gov.ie ; OASIS - www.oasis.ie; BASIS - www.basis.ie ; Revenue Commissioners - www.revenue.ie ; Houses of the Oireachtas - www.oireachtas.ie ; BAILII - www.bailii.org ; IRLII - www.irlii.org ; Irish Law Page - www.irish-law.org; Murdoch’s Encyclopedia of Irish Law MHEIL; Courts Service - www.courts.ie ; Companies Registration Office - www.cro.ie ; Property Registration Authority - www.prai.ie ; Delia Venables - www.venables.co.uk

See "The Liability of online publishers for archived materials" by Ted Harding BL in Bar Review (July 2011) 75; "Internet Intermediaries and the Law" by Marie Holland BL in Bar Review (June 2011) 60. See also “Legal Sources on the Web; Useful sites for Practitioners” by Nuala Byrne in Bar Review (Feb 2004) 28. See “Competition Law and the Internet” by Stephen Dodd BL in Bar Review (Dec 2000) 133. See “Is there such a thing as Cyberlaw?” by Rory McIntyre-O’Brien in (2003) 11 ISLR 118. [Bibliography: Butterworths (2); Kelleher & Murray; Kinsella (UK); Reed UK; Oppenheim UK].




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