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Information Law and Information Technologies

A Real "Network" of European Scientific Effort

For nearly twenty years, teachers and researchers have been carrying out studies on legal questions arising from the growth of the information society. The questions concerned protection of content (privacy, intellectual property), normalisation, e-commerce. These research initiatives have brought European researchers from a variety of disciplines to get to know each other's work and cooperate effectively together.

Research nets: a user's manual
The first research networks in this field sprang up in the 1980's. Since then European community funding spurred first collective research initiatives and then, since 1990, draft directives on the protection of privacy. Subsequent European directives have focused on electronic signatures or legal issues surrounding the circulation of books (expiration of distribution rights). Isabelle de Lamberterie is a senior scientist a the Centre d'Etudes sur la Coopération Juridique Internationale (CECOJI), and for her “it is of vital importance that the independence of research nets be maintained in the face of their connections with political and economic actors”.

On other fronts, French researchers in legal studies have joined pluridisciplinary nets to respond to delicate legal questions in various fields. The Seismed project combines computer science, medicine and law researchers to resolve the issues of processing medical data. The projects Corpora, Relator, and Else bring computer scientists, linguists and legal scholars together on questions of use of the corpus or the certification of linguistic resources. Currently, the European Commission is particularly concerned with the application of its texts and the process of harmonisation, and it is calling upon legal researchers for their expertise, for example in the programme Privireal1.

Code name: Ecodir
Eager to create a climate of confidence around electronic commerce, the general directorate for consumer protection of the European Commission has inaugurated the programme Ecodir. Its goal is to study the various modes of commercial conflict resolution via Internet “in the aim of modifying attitudes toward the respect of legal cultures in each country”. CNRS researchers have contributed to Ecodir along with European and Canadian partners. Another main goal in legal studies cooperation is to give the same meaning everywhere to standard terms. Deceptive cognates or divergent interpretations need to be eradicated, as for example the differences between the non-synonyms 'droit d'auteur' and 'copyright'. For this reason research along the lines of “Law and Language” have a vital place in the European scientific community.




Isabelle de Lamberterie
Centre d'études sur la coopération juridique internationale
CNRS-Université de Poitiers

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