IT Law, Internet Law, Model SAAS Agreement
Few people properly understand the roles and areas of expertise of an IT lawyer or an Internet lawyer. In the 1980s it was mostly a question of fairly straightforward IT contract law. Those days are well past. IT contract law and internet copyright law still underpin most of the work of the typical IT lawyer but things have now become far more complex. On any day, we may be asked to advise on topics as diverse as a software as a service contract (SAAS agreement), Data Protection law, email law, a managed services agreement, a service level agreement and web design contracts.
In this section of the weblaw.co.uk website, we will try to help you to understand these matters so that you can apply the information on this site to your own situation.
IT Contract Law
Copyright is the right of the owner of materials to dictate how they are used. The copyright owner is usually the person who has authored the software or his/her employer. The job of the IT lawyer is to draft contracts which enable the owner to keep control of its rights whilst monetising them. In the old days, a software licence and software support contract were usually all that was required.
With the advent of the internet, many an IT lawyer has recast himself/herself as an Internet lawyer who also has to understand internet copyright law, data protection, the distance selling regulations and email law. It is indeed still possible to protect your client’s interests but now far more complex.
From the Software Licence to the Software as a Service (SAAS) Agreement in 20 years
IT law follows where the technology goes. Thus, IT contract law largely reflects the mode of delivery of IT Services. 20 years ago the most commonly required agreements were software licences and software maintenance agreements. In the following 10 years, IT provision and, consequently, IT law evolved considerably and perhaps the most frequently requested document became the managed services agreement, usually with an associated service level agreement.
With the advent of the internet, websites became a must for most companies and, logically, web design agreements were in great demand. Whilst the advent of web 2.0 has elicited demand for more sophisticated web design agreements, time has moved on again and, nowadays the typical produce of an internet lawyer will be a software as a service (SAAS) agreement or online managed services agreement in either case with an associated service level agreement.
We will now examine two of the key agreements.
1. Software as a Service Agreement (SAAS)
Also known as an SAAS Agreement or a Software as a Service Contract, these have grown out of the ASP agreement model and reflect the fact that many software providers are now providing access to their software online on a subscription-based model. The typical software as a service contract will be associated with a service level agreement (“SLA”) and contain provisions detailing the initial duration, the monthly fee, the guaranteed service level, access guidelines, reasons absolving the service provider if inability to comply with the service level agreement results from reasons beyond its control. We have developed a template software as a service contract (SAAS agreement).
2. Web Design Contracts
The term is often used interchangeably with Web Development Agreement and covers the creative developmental stage between the specification of a website and it going live. An experienced IT Lawyer will make sure that it drafts Web Design Contracts which contain provisions addressing issues such as Change Control (where the specification alters mid-project), Intellectual Property (who will own the copyright in the website once development has been completed and payment made), compliance with relevant legislation e.g. the Disability Discrimination Act, responsibility for content provision by the client as well as more standard issues such as the Limitation of Liability of the provider and an intellectual property right indemnity protecting the customer in the scenario in which the website designer has used third party code in the development of the website without permission of the owner of such code. We have developed a set of template web design & web development contracts.
For further information on IT law, please call Simon Halberstam on 020 3206 2781 or via email to [email protected].