Acts

Computer misuse act - Data protection act - Copyright act

The Computer Misuse Act

The bill, supported by the government, came into effect in 1990. Sections 1-3 of the Act introduced three criminal offences.

  1. Unauthorized access to computer material, punishable by 6 months' imprisonment or a fine "not exceeding level 5 on the "standard scale" (currently £5000);
  2. unauthorized access with intent to commit or facilitate commission of further offences, punishable by 6 months/maximum fine on summary conviction or 5 years/fine onindictment
  3. unauthorized modification of computer material, subject to the same sentences as section 2 offences


The Data Protection Act

The Data Protection Act controls how your personal information is used by organisations, businesses or the government.

Everyone who is responsible for using data has to follow strict rules called ‘data protection principles’. They must make sure the information is:

  • used fairly and lawfully
  • used for limited, specifically stated purposes
  • used in a way that is adequate, relevant and not excessive
  • accurate
  • kept for no longer than is absolutely necessary
  • handled according to people’s data protection rights
  • kept safe and secure
  • not transferred outside the UK without adequate protection

There is stronger legal protection for more sensitive information, such as:

  • ethnic background
  • political opinions
  • religious beliefs
  • health
  • sexual health
  • criminal records


These acts protect all of our lives, digitally speaking

Copyright Act

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, is the current UK copyright law. It gives the creators of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works the right to control the ways in which their material may be used. The rights cover: Broadcast and public performance, copying, adapting, issuing, renting and lending copies to the public. In many cases, the creator will also have the right to be identified as the author and to object to distortions of his work.

Copyright arises when an individual or organisation creates a work, and applies to a work if it is regarded as original, and exhibits a degree of labour, skill or judgement.

Interpretation is related to the independent creation rather than the idea behind the creation. For example, your idea for a book would not itself be protected, but the actual content of a book you write would be. In other words, someone else is still entitled to write their own book around the same idea, provided they do not directly copy or adapt yours to do so.

Names, titles, short phrases and colours are not generally considered unique or substantial enough to be covered, but a creation, such as a logo, that combines these elements may be.

Normally the individual or collective who authored the work will exclusively own the rights. However, if a work is produced as part of employment then normally the work belongs to the person/company who hired the individual. For freelance or commissioned work, rights will usually belong to the author of the work, unless there is an agreement to the contrary, (i.e. in a contract for service).

Only the owner, or his exclusive licensee can bring proceedings in the courts against an infringemen