The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

Legal Challenges to Future Information Businesses

Olli Pitkänen

Dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering for public examination and debate in Auditorium T2 at Helsinki University of Technology (Espoo, Finland) on the 3rd of March, 2006, at 12 o'clock noon.

Dissertation in PDF format (ISBN 951-22-7998-3)   [917 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 951-22-7997-5)


The thesis studies new legal challenges to future information businesses: it presents an applicable research method, lists central legal challenges, and discusses the implications of those challenges.

I have developed a scenario-based method that produces lists of legal challenges and helps to analyze them.

The method highlights information products and services from commercial entity's viewpoint: other business aspects are paid less attention. Also, some specific characteristics of particular companies cannot be considered in a general method like this. Therefore challenges in legal areas such as tax law or competition law do not appear although in practice they can be relevant. The method is still able to point out numerous relevant legal challenges.

The study focuses on the future: the time span is about two to ten years from now. The focus is on the business-to-consumer (B2C) market. The emphasis is on strategic product and service development.

I have listed, analyzed, and discussed the future legal challenges that the method has found. I conclude that the most important legal challenges to future information businesses are within the areas of privacy and data protection; intellectual property rights; and contracts. I have also discussed the major distinguishers of businesses implying legal challenges. They help to point out the specific legal challenges related to a certain information product or service.

Legal rules can affect businesses in many ways. At their best, they enable businesses, but too often they also harm useful activities. I conclude business drivers and hurdles that are important from the legal point of view.

Keywords: legal challenges, futures research, privacy, intellectual property rights, contracts, digital rights management

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© 2006 Helsinki University of Technology

Last update 2011-05-26