The IRI is currently undertaking research projects and providing education in information technology law covering the full spectrum of the discipline. Work is being carried out in areas such as data protection law, legal aspects of electronic commerce (including liability of service providers and users), contracts in the field of information technology and internet governance.
Another area of interest is intellectual property, in particular in technology driven fields such as software protection, databases, digital rights management systems, trademark conflicts on the internet and domain name disputes. The IRI focuses specifically on the free and open source licence models and on comparable projects for other areas of creativity such as creative commons and open access.
Information technology law is a genuine international discipline. Regulative activity stems predominantly from the European Community or on an international level. Media industries are acting on a global scale and have legal conflicts concerning more than one jurisdiction. The same is true for users of the internet. Therefore all questions of private international law, i.e. conflicts of law, jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement are high on the Institute's agenda. The same holds true for private regulative mechanisms on the internet and the theoretical implications that are raised by this emerging lex informatica.
The IRI conducts work in these fields by undertaking basic research projects. This is illustrated by more than 25 doctoral and post-doctoral theses which have been prepared at the Institute since its establishment. The IRI also has a very strong focus on applied science projects. Since 1983, the Institute has completed research projects funded, inter alia, by the German Research Association (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft), the Volkswagen Foundation (Volkswagen Stiftung), the Thyssen Foundation, the European Commission, the German Federal Ministry for Labour (Bundesminister für Arbeit), the Ministry for Science and Culture of Lower Saxony (Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kultur) and the Lower Saxony Commissioner for Data Protection (Niedersächsischer Beauftragter für den Datenschutz). Third party funding for research adds up to more than 1,700,000 €. The subject matter of these research projects includes topics such as information systems in personnel, telecommuting, data protection law, international data traffic, medical data protection law, medical data in the health insurances, electronic registration, the development of a comprehensive database for the law regarding public procurement and copyright law for mobile TV services.