Call for papers

Back to the futures: law without frontiers?

BILETA 2019, Belfast, 16-17 April 2019

The call for papers is now closed. Many thanks to all who submitted a proposal.

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We meet in Belfast for BILETA’s annual conference, thirty years after a Convention and Directive signalled a new age of television ‘without frontiers’ in Europe. But we plan our meeting for April knowing that it is proposed that the United Kingdom exit the European Union at the end of March – and the question of frontiers and borders (hard, soft, smart, or invisible) will be of interest across these islands and in Belfast in particular.

Forty years ago, a new manufacturing plant was built on the outskirts of Belfast, to build just one vehicle. That car – the DeLorean DMC-12 – represented a particular vision of the future of the car industry and indeed of economic development in Northern Ireland. It was no surprise that it played a starring role in the film Back To The Future (1985) – though its actual impact on cars and jobs was rather different to what was proposed. Instead, it could be argued thatfilm – and the creative industries more widely – are central to the story of Northern Ireland in the 21st century. Today, this landscape and these streets are most familiar to some as a setting for the likes of Game of Thrones (2011-) or Line of Duty (2012-), while sectors such as animation, immersive technologies, and gaming are growing rapidly. We look forward to welcoming you to Queen’s University Belfast – a partner in Future Screens NI, a major research and development project on the creative industries in collaboration with lead institution Ulster University and partners in the public and private sectors north and south.

How will our legal systems engage with today’s technological developments and anticipate future directions? With a new ‘industrial strategy’ in the UK placing great emphasis on the creative sectors, artificial intelligence, robotics, and more, which regulatory questions are coming into focus? With a new set of national development plans in Ireland, alongside a controversial role as the means by which multinational enterprises access the European Union, how will privacy, security, and the like be addressed? What will legal education look like in the 2020s – after the dust settles on regulatory change, and the shape of legal careers themselves continue to evolve?

We welcome papers on the following (and other) topics, with a particular welcome for papers that address the UK-Ireland relationship and/or the impact of Brexit. Abstracts of up to 500 words should be sent to by Friday 18th January 2019.

  • Law and the creative industries (e.g. content regulation, taxation, consumer issues, competition)
  • Intellectual property law
  • Legal education, regulation, and technology-enhanced learning
  • Privacy, surveillance, data protection
  • Legal and ethical aspects of AI, algorithms, machine learning, automation
  • Cybercrime, cybersecurity, predictive policing
  • Approaches to regulation and governance
  • Future technologies and law
  • Human rights and technology

The conference will take place on 16th/17th April 2019 at the School of Law, including the BILETA Annual Dinner in the Great Hall, Queen’s University Belfast (Tuesday 16th), and the BILETA AGM and informal events on the evening of the 15th. Subject to interest, opportunities to explore Belfast and the region as a group may be available on 18th April. Discounts on the registration fee will be available for participants from BILETA member institutions and for early registration, and a substantial reduction will be available to PhD candidates. Registration will open at the end of January.

The University has made arrangements at a preferential rate with a number of nearby hotels (booking available alongside registration), and Belfast is well served with a range of other accommodation options. The city is directly connected to nearly every airport in Great Britain and to Amsterdam, through Belfast City Airport (15 minutes from the University). Belfast International Airport is primarily served by low-cost airlines (including service to/from a range of European cities); Dublin Airport in Ireland is under 2 hours away by coach, and has the widest range of direct flights. Daily ferries arrive at Belfast from Scotland and Liverpool. For travellers from the Republic of Ireland, there are hourly bus services from Dublin, and regular rail services.

Queries? Please contact conference organiser Prof. Daithí Mac Síthigh ( or events coordinator Deaglan Coyle ( See also and @biletabelfast.