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Monday, January 26, 2004
Book Review

Demystifying cyber jurisprudence
Review by Ali Hasnain
Cyber Laws 
by Justice Yatindra Singh; Universal Law Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd; Pages 248; Rs. 295

Cyber Laws While reading Justice Yatindra Singh’s Cyber Laws, I was reminded of a lecture I attended on Information Technology Laws at law school. Justice K.T. Thomas of the Supreme Court in a neatly crafted quip put the burden of demystifying "new age laws" on "new age judges." The "new age judge" he was referring to was the young Judge of the Bombay High Court, Justice Dhananjay Chandrachud, who was his co-speaker.

Justice Thomas has since retired and Justice Yatindra Singh has "suo moto" taken up the task of fathoming Cyber Laws in his recently published book by the same the name. Cyber Laws is divided in two parts. Part I consists of Justice Singh’s lectures on different facets of cyber law in various fora. He has modified them for doing the book. The primary emphasis is on continuity. Part II carries statutory provisions, rules and regulations. Justice Singh’s work covers the issues being currently debated for understanding cyber law jurisprudence. His work touches upon the technological basis of cyber laws. It carries discussions and understanding of digital signatures, source codes, metatags, linking, electronic documents etc.; some elementary and not-so-elementary concepts that are fundamental to any deliberation on cyber law jurisprudence.

The book also reflects on changes or alterations in other ‘conventional’ statutes more particularly the penal code and intellectual property laws and does well to explain the interplay of various statutes in the light of the provisions of the IT Act and the related changes in other laws. Cyber law is an exciting area of modern jurisprudence in as much as one is witness to its creation from scratch. The Internet may well turn a lot of "settled principles" of law on their head. Creation of jurisprudence is a time-consuming process. It evolves gradually through the reflections on particular issues by lawmakers and jurists. It is not untouched by controversies caused by its interpretation by legal luminaries. This book records some such cases including The Dow Jones Case, The Young Case and The Griffis Case wherein inter alia the power of a court to take cognizance in terms of territorial jurisdiction resulted in legal hair-splitting.

The book also deals with a lot of recent decisions on questions like the legality of reverse engineering in face of express contractual prohibition, copyright of source code and object code, patents for business methods and computer programs. The only problem is that technology is moving at such a frantic pace that if jurisprudence does not evolve simultaneously, which on the face of it sounds absurd, the delay may be fatal to the extent of making such jurisprudence obsolete.