The Natural Law and Political Law throughout the World

Natural law assumes that there is a body of law setting a complete and immutable standard of judgment and that knowledge of this body of law can be obtained by the rational contemplation of by consulting a divine revelation.

A recent theory of natural law, by Rudolf Stammler, has sacrificed immutability and declared that natural law might have a changing content. Other doctrines have set side by side with a natural law, grounded in reason and a permanent sense of justice, another law arrived at by “convention,” that is, by a formal set of rules of conduct based on convenience or utility.

This latter body, known as “positive” law, is for enforcing officials, as much entitled to be called law as that which is derived from reason and the nature of man, although the latter is of greater moral authority.

The conception of law a body of formal rules that can be drawn up and learned, like the axioms or “common notions” of Euclidean geometry, is of course quite incorrect. But it is a fact that in civilized countries, especially in those that derive their civilization from the Mediterranean area, there are a great many rules of conduct which, whenever the questioned is presented, the courts would declare to be legal rules and which are almost the same for nearly all the areas of that civilization.

the lawyer's table
the lawyer’s table

These rules concern the graver crimes of violence and fraud, whether directed against person or property. In the Western group, there is also a general agreement among the laws of every country in the organization of the family.

For example, monogamy is the only valid form of marriage, and the duty of support of minor children, that is, children below eighteen or twenty-one years old, is imposed on the parents. In Asia, and Africa, polygamy is generally lawful, except that economic conditions usually, but not always, make the prevailing family from monogamous, despite the legality of polygamy.

In both areas, again, private properly is a legal institution except in the Soviet Union and in those countries which have come under its influence or direct control. But even in these so-called communist countries, private property in some goods is recognized and is protected by law.

Neither monogamy nor the institution or private property can be said to be inescapably derived from the nature of man. But the wide acceptance of both by so large a part of civilized mankind make it possible to speak of a general law which, with its rejection of acts of violence and fraud, can form the nucleus of comparable systems in nations which otherwise show a great diversity of customs.

While a “general law” of civilized man is a term that has only the content just described, it may be seen that large areas can be described terms of “countries of the civil law” and “countries of the common law.”

Between them, they include the majority of civilized nations.

A General View on Law – The Definition of the Word

Since the word “law” is used in many different senses, it is important to indicate that in this article it will be used in the sense which the word is commonly understood in speaking and writing.

Law, in this sense, consists of a system of social rules which, in the communities that in varying degrees share Western civilization, has become the special business of institutions called courts, and is enforced by officials typified in England and the United States by sheriffs and policemen, and by similar officials elsewhere.

In these communities, the institutions and officials that deal with the law have this as their exclusive business. In other civilized communities, a clean-cut differentiation is not always made. The institutions and officials that most resemble the Anglo-American courts are enforcing officials often have other functions as well.

Legal books
Legal books

They sometimes give moral and religious guidance and do so with authority. Furthermore, in some communities of a high degree of culture and in nearly all primitive communities, it is impossible to tell whether a given social rule is one of manner, or morals, of religion, or of law, or of some amalgam or admixture of all four.

Attention must be called to the other senses in which “law” is used in English and which are here excluded. Scientific “laws” like the “law of gravitation” or Newton’s “laws of motion,” are, of course, not social regulations at all.

They are merely observed sequences of natural phenomena and it is only by an easily abused metaphor that the world “law” is applied to them.

And despite the fact that morals are religion are, as have been stated, fused with law proper in many communities, we shall have to distinguish, as far as Europe and America are concerned, the law which needs courts and policemen from the “moral law,” which depends on the approval of the individual conscience.

We must also distinguish the law here discussed from the “law of God” as it is expounded by theologians, although in our system as well as in less differentiated ones, the moral law and the divine law play a real part in determining what law is.

The system of social rules to which the term “law” is here limited is subject to constant modification since it must change in every particular society as the society itself changes.

the court room
the court room

All over the world and particularly in Europe and America, this has often been accomplished by the conscious activity of official persons called “legislators,” and we nearly always find the task of legislating, that is, of making changes in the laws, entrusted to a corporately organized section of the government which has various names – parliaments, congress, Reichstag, legislature, council, assembly, diet, or some similar designation.

In English, when the term “law” is used with the indefinite article (“a law”) or in the plural (“laws”), those legislative enactments are generally intended which technically are called “statutes.” When, however, the terms “the law” or “law” without an article are used, the entire system, which includes statutes and a great deal of material besides, is denoted.

In other European languages the same distinction is made, except that the etymological equivalent of “law” is used almost exclusively for “statute,” as is the German Gesetz; and the word which translates terms like “the law” or “law” is some derivative of the Latin word that means “right”.

The Basics of Computer and Internet Law

The technology revolution has ushered in a host of novel legal problems. The legal system is often ill-equipped to cope with the many ramifications of technological change in society. Since much of the law of the legal system evolved during the Middle Ages, it should not be surprising that many traditional legal concepts do not translate easily into a postindustrial world.

In a technologically oriented society, a number of legal issues have become identified as the field of computer and Internet law. Almost all lawyers have come face-to-face with the computer revolution in one way or another. Technological changes have totally restructured many aspects of the practice of law.

internet law

Lawyers use computers for preparing documents, maintaining files, and developing cases for court. And technology appears increasingly as a factor in many legal cases. For example, in many jurisdictions, court filings may be done online, and tools such as digital animation have been used to graphically illustrate evidence.

What this means is that lawyers must not only understand the technology for themselves, but they must become involved periodically in technological issues on behalf of their clients. Thus, every lawyer deals with computer law are some way at least periodically.

Additionally, some lawyers practice in the field of computer and Internet law extensively or even exclusively. These lawyers often possess qualifications in other arenas such as information science, mathematics, engineering, or some other computer-related field, in addition to training in the law.

internet law

Anyone contemplating a career in computer law should consider gaining educational credentials or practical experience in the computer industry to supplement a legal education.

Although the descriptions here are by no means exhaustive, they present an interesting overview of many of the problems that fit under the umbrella of computer law. Such classifications may seem somewhat arbitrary, but they provide a useful organization for the material in computer and internet law: computers in the courtroom, the computer industry, intellectual property, information resources and criminal law.

There is also some crossover between other parts of computer law and traditional fields of legal practice. The differences are significant enough and volume of work sufficient, however, to include the topic of computer law.

The Essentials of Trade Secrets and the Moral rights of Artists

Trade Secrets

In today’s complex industrial world the process of product design and development is an intensely competitive one. Competing companies may be racing to develop a particular new process or product. Before intellectual property can be patented or otherwise protected, the ongoing research and development efforts generate a work product that enjoys its own protection.

Industrial espionage involving the specific invasion of ongoing research, defection of key employees with secret information, and a variety of other issues provide the basis for considerable litigation over these trade secrets.

Although much of this trade-secret litigation is conducted by law firms that practice in the areas of trademark, copyright, and patent law, it may full to other firms involved in general litigation as well.

Moral Right of Artists

A final category of intellectual property involves what has been called the moral rights of artists. One may create a painting or sculpture or other work of art and may be able to copyright or sell his or her interest in the work to another.

What happens when the successor in interest to a work of art no longer wants it, or wishes to alter it? And what happens if an artist throws away a piece considering it unworthy of his or her signature and it is picked up by someone else and held out as the genuine thing?

An artist at work

Issues such as these go beyond the ordinary scope of copyright law.

In Europe, an artist’s right to the integrity of his or her work has been described as a moral right. The idea of moral rights of artists has been very slow to catch on in the United States. Here, if I should buy the Mona Lisa for display in my living room and decide that she would look better with a moustache, I would be able to paint a moustache on her because I own the painting.

If I owned the Sistine Chapel and decided that it needed a new modern whitewashed look without all those musty murals, I might paint it over. No matter what da Vinci or Michaelangelo might say (where they alive, of course). No matter what enhanced value of artwork might possess. Increasingly, however, courts are beginning to protect the integrity of artwork in this country.

Although artists may not be able to preclude the sale, distribution, or reproduction of their work, they may be able to prevent its alteration or destruction. Look or this area of intellectual properly law to gain increasing prominence in the years ahead.