SIE 525: Overview

Information Systems Law

Professor Harlan J. Onsrud
Room 340 Boardman Hall

Course Objectives

This course reviews the current status of information systems law in regard to rights of privacy, freedom of information, confidentiality, work product protection, copyright, security, legal liability, and a range of additional legal and information policy topics. We will investigate the legal difficulties that technological innovations are causing in all of these areas. We will focus particularly on these issues in regard to their impact on the use of digital data work products and databases. Legal options for dealing with the conflicts caused by technological change and likely adaptations of the law over time in response to societal changes will be explored.

A. Class Sessions: On-Campus Students

  • Date and Time: Tues and Thursday, 11:00 – 12:15 Tues & Thurs, Room 336 Boardman Hall
  • Assignments: Assignments and their due dates and times are posted on the syllabus.
  • Live Video Broadcasts: If you have a soft voice, please sit at the center of the table near the microphone so that students at a distance can pick up your voice. If you need to travel, you can participate live from anywhere with good Internet access. The live stream is available at a Zoom link on Blackboard or directly as indicated below.  You should use ear buds or headphones. Headphones with a microphone are required if you participate from some place noisy like a coffee shop.
  • Archived Broadcasts: Links to the class videos are made available at the end of each day through thecourse Blackboard site under the Class Sessions Videos Archive link in the left menu. View the video if you miss a session.

   Class Sessions: Off-Campus Distance Students

  • Assignments: Assignments and their due dates and times are posted on the syllabus. Distance students should do the module assignments at any time of their choosing before the indicated deadlines. Please feel free to complete them well in advance since they relate primarily to the readings rather than the video recorded lectures.
  • Recorded Broadcasts: In-class sessions are video recorded on Tues and Thursday at 11:00 – 12:15. Distance students should view any previous lectures before the Wednesday evening discussion session for distance students. Links to the class videos are made available at the end of each day through the course Blackboard site under the Class Sessions Videos Archive link in the left menu. (Note: If a live session fails to record due to technical difficulties I will either record again the lecture portion of the session or post a discussion on the same topic from a previous year.)
  • Live Video Broadcasts: Off-campus students may view  the sessions “live” but are not required nor encouraged to do so. Typically I prefer that you NOT participate interactively in the on-campus sessions. Online students are not assigned interactive moderator roles but instead have an additional assignment to complete during the semester.
  • Weekly Live Video Chat: View the lectures and in-class student discussions at times of your own choosing during the week but before the Wednesday evening live discussion session. The live session is available at a Zoom link on Blackboard or directly as indicated below. This optional Wednesday discussion session runs from 7:00 pm east coast U.S. time for at least an hour. While NOT mandatory, students often find the session productive for asking questions and discussing points not raised in the lectures. If joining by video (preferred), you should activate your camera so we can see you and you should wear earbuds or headphones to prevent others from receiving audio feedback.

Zoom Details

Join from Web (PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android):
Join using iPhone one-tap: US: +16468769923,,6161684876# or +16699006833,,6161684876#
Join using Telephone:
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 646 876 9923 or +1 669 900 6833 or +1 408 638 0968
Meeting ID: 616 168 4876
International numbers available:

B. Course Materials

  • Note that this is a graduate course in information systems law and ethical issues for non-law students. The typical enrolled student is pursuing a graduate degree in information systems, computing/computer science, engineering, business administration or another domain in which a knowledge of cyberlaw issues may be of value. As such, substantial time is spent on introductory legal concepts. Further, we will focus on overview books and sources for most of the readings rather than use the text of case law or legislation.
  • Required readings include several books, chapters of books and articles. If links to readings happen to be dead, check the Course Material Backups page for archived copies of the open access articles (hint:(chickenSoup). The reading assignments are much heavier than experienced normally in engineering or science courses so you should begin them immediately and pace yourself to ensure their completion.  The required textbooks are available through the sources listed under Lectures and Assignments. Most of the readings are available openly on the web through open access licenses. They are also often available by ordering them from online sources if you prefer published paper copies. (Some titles of older books used in past offerings of the course are at books.)
  • Course lectures will NOT correspond exactly with the readings.  Additional reading materials will be made available and linked from the web syllabus over time.  Geographic data conflict examples are often used in this course to illustrate principles.
  • Supplemental Instructions:

C. Grading and Class Policies

  • Grades in this course will be based on the quality and completion of all requirements listed on the syllabus that may be reasonably altered at the discretion of the instructor as the course progresses. As a graduate level course, you are expected to exhibit high quality work that demonstrates sound understanding of the concepts and their complexity. Your written work should reflect professional quality in composition as well as in spelling and grammar. Earning an “A” represents oral and written work that is of exceptionally high quality and demonstrates superb understanding of the course material. A “B” grade represents oral and written work that is of good quality and demonstrates a sound understanding of course material. A “C” grade represents a minimally adequate completion of assignments and participation demonstrating a limited understanding of course material.
  • Although subject to change, grades are typically weighted as follows:

• 25% written responses to daily module assignments
• 25% performance as a moderator/editor and discussion participation (on-campus students) or     25% additional question responses (off-campus students)
• 25% mid-term exam
• 25% final exam

– up to 5% Extra Credit Book Review

  • SELF ASSESSMENT OF GRADE TO DATE:  Because you are able to read the ongoing module responses of all other students in the course, continually ask yourself:
    • Was my response among the top five responses in terms of being comprehensive, accurate, insightful and thoughtful?
    • Was my response on par with at least the top half of the other class responses?
    • Was my response obviously below the majority of other responses in terms of comprehensiveness or was it off topic or mistaken in terms of assessing one or more core issues?

D. Communications

  • Delivery of Assignments and Class Notices:
    While assignments are made on the Lectures and Assignments web page, the course will use Blackboard for delivery of completed assignments.  Blackboard interfaces are automatically established for all UMaine courses each semester. Find Blackboard at (the yellow and black Bb icon). All officially enrolled students are automatically enrolled into the Blackboard course. The course should appear as active in your Blackboard course list. Click on SIE 525 Information Systems Law.

    • Class Notices: The instructor will occasionally make announcements to all students on the main course page of Blackboard. The course website is also accessible from the left menu.
    • Module Assignments: Your regular module assignments will be submitted under the Module Assignments link under Assignments.
      • At the beginning of the course, copy all questions from the web syllabus for all modules into a single word processing document. This is your master module document. Remove all formatting from the document.
      • Before each module assignment deadline, provide responses to the questions for the current required module in your master document. Copy both the module questions and your responses from the master document to paste as indicated in the following steps:
      • Within Blackboard, go to Assignments > Module Assignments.
      • Click on the proper Module (A to Z). On the page that comes up, click on “Write Assignment.” A text box will appear.
      • Paste the module questions and your responses to each into the text window (There must be NO formatting except for new lines and never attach a file in this section)
      • Click “Submit” to send the assignment.
    • Class Compilations by the Instructor: You will be able to see the compilation of module responses by fellow students before each class but after the delivery deadline (8 pm the night before the class in which the module will be discussed) under the Class Compilations link under Assignments.
    • End of Semester Files: These products must be delivered ONLY as Word, RTF, or PDF files and each will be delivered as file in the appropriate section under Assignments. Click on the appropriate item (Editor Report, etc.) and on the page that comes up, look for “Browse My Computer” to select the file from your computer to upload. Click on “Submit” to send the file. The files should be named starting with your last name and take the form of the following:
      • Smith – Editor Report
      • Smith – Module Response Compilation
      • Smith – Annotated Bibliography [or Other Final Project]

E. Important Notices
Academic Honesty: Academic honesty is expected.  Plagiarism is unacceptable in this course and will result in a failing grade.  “Although a writer may use other persons’ words and thoughts, they must be acknowledged as such.” Joseph Gibaldi and Walter S. Achtert, MLA Handbook (Modern Language Association) 1977, p. 4.

F. Instructor Office Hours & Discussion Sessions
For one-on-one discussions with the instructor, E-mail to We can then arrange a phone conversation or in-person meeting as needed. An alternative method might be to send a query to  selected (or all) classmates through the Blackboard message interface.

Creative Commons License
SIE 525 Information Systems Law by Harlan Onsrud is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.