Boston University School of Law

JD952 Copyright Law

JD 952 ( A1)  MW 10:40 AM-12:40 PM 
4 cr., Fall 
Professor Gordon 
No Class Website
 

Copyright is one of the major legal regimes governing art, software, information, and entertainment, and its rules deeply affect how the internet operates. This course is a policy and skills-oriented study of federal copyright law. Much of copyright policy can be clarified by using some basic tools from economics and philosophy; these analytic tools will be taught during the course, and no prior knowledge is required. As for skills, the course focuses on two: how to tackle and master a complex set of interrelated statutory provisions, and how to articulate legal principles orally in a way that would be comprehensible to an untutored judge. Rather than having a predominant lecture format, the course puts student analysis at its center. The course will cover the exclusive rights granted to creators of "original works of authorship", the authorial subject-matters eligible for federal copyright, the nature of an infringement action, and defenses such as fair use. In addition, students will be expected to master at least one detailed, statute-governed topic such as duration (how long do rights over a given work of authorship remain in private hands before becoming free for all to copy) or the inalienable right of termination (how authors can retrieve their copyrights despite having signed contracts indicating that they have sold all rights). The course also examines some state rights, such as the 'right of publicity' and 'quasi-property rights against the misappropriation of data', for purposes of exploring how these state doctrines interact with, or are pre-empted by, federal copyright law.