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portal: Libraries and the Academy 2.2 (2002) 342-343

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Book Review

Computer and Internet Use on Campus:
A Legal Guide to Issues of Intellectual Property, Free Speech, and Privacy

Computer and Internet Use on Campus: A Legal Guide to Issues of Intellectual Property, Free Speech, and Privacy,Constance S. Hawke. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2001. 172 p. $17 (ISBN 0-7879-5516-7)

Anyone who works with users in a computing environment knows the volume of sticky legal questions that arise on a regular basis. What responsibility does an institution have when a user is viewing pornographic materials in a public computing area? Are materials posted on the [End Page 342] Internet protected by copyright or considered public domain? How much privacy should a user expect in an electronic environment? On a college campus, these questions increase in number and complexity, given a college's dual and often conflicting functions. How can colleges and universities both encourage the sharing of information in an electronic environment and at the same time protect themselves and their users from civil liability?

This book provides an overview of the legal issues and policies involved in providing computer networks at colleges and universities. Divided into four sections, the book covers the issues of intellectual property online, free speech in cyberspace, privacy issues in electronic communications, fairness, and online dispute resolution. Each chapter gives related legislation, definitions, and background, as well as a section discussing the specific implications for higher education and a list of recommendations. The book also contains a checklist for developing computer use policies, guidelines for network system administrators, a glossary of terms, references (heavily weighted toward law journals), a case index, and a topical index.

Author Constance S. Hawke has previous experience as both a practicing attorney and an adjunct professor for education and business law courses. She currently serves as Associate University Counsel at Kent State University. Writing from a legal perspective, Hawke takes older laws such as those pertaining to telephones, and shows how they may or may not be applicable to the electronic world. The greatly abbreviated background on relevant statutes provides a helpful snapshot of the major issues, but may be a little difficult reading for the non-lawyer, given the many citations appended throughout. However, the detailed, vivid descriptions of particular cases that have occurred on other college campuses will inspire administrators to take a closer look at their own campus policies.

This book covers issues that go far beyond some of the media-grabbing ones, such as pornography on public machines. While those more prominent issues are discussed, Hawke also reviews a broad range of others issues including technical implementation (legality of using frames or links in a Web page) and economic issues (ownership of distance education courses, dormitory-based businesses). E-mail—the bane of many academic libraries—is mentioned repeatedly. E-mail-related issues include unsolicited e-mail (better known as "spam"), e-mail as part of a student's educational record, e-mail harassment, and e-mail privacy. In all her discussions, Hawke covers the differences in the responsibilities of private and public institutions.

This slim volume is packed with well-organized, practical information that will give administrators the necessary background to craft a solid policy or rework a weak one. Hawke's recommendations at the end of each chapter, such as "define access to the campus network as a privilege" (p. 142) and "prohibit commercial activity" (p. 78) are concise and clear. While it contains only passing reference to libraries in the world of academic computing, Computer and Internet Use on Campus is a must for the many academic libraries that play a leadership role in campus computing. With a clear policy in place, some of the many computing-related legal questions from the campus community may be answered up front, rather than waiting for the courts to decide.


Michelle Mach
Colorado State University



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