COPYRIGHT LAW – SPRING 2019


How to read the syllabus and find the reading assignments
Except as noted below, each assignment below corresponds tentatively to one class period, though the amount of material to be covered in class, the order of the assignments, and/or the contents of a particular assignment may be changed by prior announcement. Note, for example, that there will be more class meetings than there are assignments. Every effort will be made to incorporate new developments in copyright law into the Syllabus, where appropriate.

Within each assignment, in the middle column below, the Syllabus notes the required reading. In addition to the assigned readings, where a case or other material refers to the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code), students are responsible for locating and reading the section(s) of the Act to which the text refers.  At least three, free online resources are available for that purpose:

For some assignments, additional required supplemental cases or materials have been posted to the TWEN page for this course, on Westlaw.

Many of the assignments include, in the right column below, links to optional (but possibly entertaining and useful) supplemental material.  Some provides historical context for the assigned cases. Some consists of clips from motion pictures and television shows that illustrate related copyright themes.  In some cases, these, too, illustrate the assigned readings.  In some cases, they are (one hopes) funny takes on relevant legal points.  Some of the film clips contain spicy [NSFW] language, sounds, and/or images. In many respects the study and practice of copyright law requires lawyers to “toggle” between “law” and “culture.” Exploring the optional materials will help you learn to do just that.

Topic 1: The Problems That Copyright Solves

Class 1 (the first day of class): An Introduction to Copyright’s Institutional Settings

Required Readings

  • Read the following article from the New York Times Magazine about the role of so-called collecting societies in the music industry: The Music-Copyright Enforcers (August 6, 2010)
  • Is the Batmobile subject to copyright?  Read DC Comics v. Towle [pdf] [docx]
  • Slides from class

Optional Materials

  • History of the Batmobile
  • Read the following short articles from the New York Review of Books written by Professor Robert Darnton, former Director of the Harvard University Library, together with some comments on them.  Each article is available online. If any of the links below to the New York Review of Books does not provide full access to the article, then go to Pitt’s University Library System page at http://www.library.pitt.edu/ and cut-and-paste the article title below into the search box. The search results will give you access to the full text, so long as you log in with your University of Pittsburgh credentials.

Class 2: Why Copyright? Historical Context and Contemporary Challenges

Required Readings

  • Read Boyle & Jenkins, Ch. 1 and Ch. 10, available on the Copyright Law – Spring 2019 page on TWEN, under “Course Materials.”
  • Slides from class

Optional Materials

For those students with deeper interests in copyright history and theory, much of which is quite relevant today: Boyle, The Public Domain, Ch. 1 and Ch. 2.  Both are available on the Copyright Law – Spring 2019 page on TWEN, under “Course Materials.”

Topic 2: The Purposes of Copyright, as Measured by Limitations: Fair Use

Class 3: Fair Use Basics – Cultural Interchange

Required Readings

  • Section 107 of the Copyright Act
  • Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. [pdf] [docx]
  • New Era Publications Int’l v. Carol Publishing Group [pdf] [docx]
  • Bill Graham Archives v. Dorling Kindersley Ltd. [pdf] [docx]
  • Slides from class

Class 4: Fair Use Basics – Market Failure or “Productive Consumption”?

Class 5: The Cutting Edge of Fair Use

Required Readings

Optional Materials

Topic 3: The Subject Matter of Copyright Law

Class 6: Fixation

Required Readings

  • Section 102(a) of the Copyright Act and relevant selections from Section 101
  • Williams Electronics, Inc. v. Artic International, Inc. [pdf] [docx]
  • Garcia v. Google, Inc. [pdf] [docx]
  • Slides from class

Class 7: Originality

Required Readings

  • Section 102(a) of the Copyright Act and relevant selections from Section 101
  • Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Telephone Service Co. [pdf] [docx]
  • Burrow-Giles Lithographic Co. v. Sarony [pdf] [docx]
  • Bleistein v. Donaldson Lithographing Co. [pdf] [docx]
  • Meshwerks, Inc. v. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc. [pdf] [docx]
  • Mannion v. Coors Brewing Co. [pdf] [docx]
  • Slides from class

Class 8: The Idea/Expression Distinction

Required Readings

  • Section 102(b) of the Copyright Act and relevant selections from Section 101
  • Baker v. Selden [pdf] [docx]
  • A.A. Hoehling v. Universal City Studios, Inc. [pdf] [docx]
  • Bikram’s Yoga College of India v. Evolation Yoga, LLC [pdf] [docx]
  • Slides from class

Class 9: Authorship and Ownership

Required Readings

  • Sections 201 and 202 of the Copyright Act and relevant selections from Section 101
  • Lindsay v. The Wrecked and Abandoned Vessel R.M.S. Titanic [pdf] [docx]
  • Erickson v. Trinity Theatre, Inc. [pdf] [docx]
  • Aalmuhammed v. Lee [pdf] [docx]
  • Community for Creative Non-Violence v. Reid [pdf] [docx]
  • Aymes v. Bonelli [pdf] [docx]
  • Roeslin v. District of Columbia [pdf] [docx]
  • Slides from class

Class 10: Boundary Problems – Copyright and/vs. Trademark Law

Required Readings

  • Section 103 of the Copyright Act and relevant selections from Section 101
  • Dastar Corp. v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. [pdf] [docx]
  • Gilliam v. American Broadcasting Co. [pdf][docx]
  • Re-read the Batmobile materials from Class 1
  • Slides from class

Assignment Number One will be distributed
around this time. The Assignment will be due on Friday, February 15, 2019.

Class 11: Boundary Problems – Copyright and/vs. (Design) Patent Law: Useful Articles with Pictorial, Graphic, or Sculptural Aspects

Required Readings

  • Relevant selections from Section 101 of the Copyright Act (“Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works”)
  • Mazer v. Stein [pdf] [docx]
  • Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands [pdf] [docx]
  • Slides from class

Optional Materials

Topic 4: The Statutory Rights of Copyright Owners

Many of the cases below feature claims of infringement in musical compositions and sound recordings. The Music Copyright Infringement Resource, hosted at the University of Southern California, contains an enormous volume of information about the works at issue in these and many other cases.

Class 12: The Elements of Infringement

Required Readings

  • Sections 106 and 501 of the Copyright Act and relevant selections from Section 101
  • Three Boys Music Corp. v. Bolton [pdf] [docx]
  • Selle v. Gibb [pdf] [docx]
  • Ty, Inc. v. GMA Accessories, Inc. [pdf] [docx]
  • Nichols v. Universal Pictures Corp. [pdf] [docx]
  • Slides from class

Optional Materials

Class 13: The Reproduction Right

Required Readings

  • Section 106(1) of the Copyright Act and relevant selections from Section 101
  • Steinberg v. Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. [pdf] [docx]
  • Boisson v. Banian, Ltd. [pdf] [docx]
  • Mannion v. Coors Brewing Co. [pdf] [docx]
  • Sid & Marty Krofft Television Productions, Inc. v. McDonald’s Corp. [pdf] [docx]
  • Cavalier v. Random House, Inc. [pdf] [docx]
  • Swirsky v. Carey [pdf] [docx]
  • Rentmeester v. Nike, Inc. [pdf] [docx]
  • Slides from class

Class 14: The Distribution Right

Required Readings

  • Sections 106(3) and 109(c) of the Copyright Act and relevant selections from Section 101
  • Capitol Records, Inc. v. Thomas [pdf] [docx]
  • Bobbs-Merrill Company v. Straus [pdf] [docx]
  • Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. [pdf] [docx]
  • Capitol Records, LLC v. Redigi Inc. [pdf] [docx]
  • Slides from class

Optional Materials

The United Kingdom and Ireland each have a Public Lending Right, which does not exist in the United States.  Read more here.

Class 15: The Right to Prepare Derivative Works, and Moral Rights

Required Readings

  • Sections 106(2) and 104A of the Copyright Act and relevant selections from Section 101
  • Lee v. A.R.T. Company [pdf] [docx]
  • Lewis Galoob Toys, Inc. v. Nintendo of America, Inc.[pdf] [docx]
  • Micro Star v. FormGen, Inc. [pdf] [docx]
  • Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. v. RDR Books [pdf] [docx]
  • Lilley v. Stout [pdf] [docx]
  • Slides from class

Class 16: The Public Performance and Public Display Rights

Required Readings

  • Section 106(4), 106(5), 109(c), and 110 of the Copyright Act and relevant selections from Section 101
  • Columbia Pictures Indus. v. Redd Horne, Inc. [pdf] [docx]
  • Perfect 10, Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc. [pdf] [docx]
  • American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. v. Aereo, Inc.[pdf] [docx]
  • Slides from class

Classes 17 and 18: Licenses, Deals, and the Mechanics of Transfers

Required Readings

  • Section 204 of the Copyright Act and relevant selections from Section 101
  • Asset Marketing Systems, Inc. v. Gagnon [pdf] [docx]
  • Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers, Ltd. v. The Walt Disney Company [pdf] [docx]
  • Random House v. Rosetta Books [pdf] [docx]
  • Vernor v. Autodesk, Inc. [pdf] [docx]
  • Jacobsen v. Katzer [pdf] [docx]
  • F.B.T. Productions v. Aftermath Records [pdf] [docx]
  • Slides from class

Assignment Number Two will be distributed
around this time. The Assignment will be due on Friday, April 5, 2019.

Topic 5: Copyright Enforcement – Who is Liable and How?

Classes 19 and 20: Identifying Defendants

Required Readings

  • Sections 106 and 501 of the Copyright Act and relevant selections from Section 101
  • Religious Technology Center v.  Netcom On-Line Communication Services, Inc. [pdf] [docx]
  • Fonovisa, Inc. v. Cherry Auction, Inc. [pdf] [docx]
  • Perfect 10, Inc. v. Visa Int’l Service Ass’n [pdf] [docx]
  • MGM Studios Inc. v. Grokster Ltd. [pdf] [docx]
  • Slides from class

Class 21: Remedies

Required Readings

  • Sections 502 through 507 of the Copyright Act
  • Bryant v. Media Right Productions [pdf] [docx]
  • Columbia Pictures Television v. Krypton Broadcasting of Birmingham, Inc. [pdf] [docx]
  • Engel v. Wild Oats [pdf] [docx]
  • Dash v. Mayweather [pdf] [docx]
  • Hamil America v. GFI [pdf] [docx]
  • Salinger v. Colting [pdf] [docx]
  • United States v. Liu [pdf] [docx]

Optional Materials

TBD

Classes 22 and 23: Service Providers

Topic 6: Regulatory Copyright

Class 24: Formalities

Required Readings

  • Michael J. Madison, Formalities, on the Copyright Law – Spring 2019 page on TWEN
  • Estate of Martin Luther King, Jr., Inc. v. CBS, Inc. [pdf] [docx]
  • Slides from class

Class 25: Duration; Renewals and Terminations of Transfers

Required Readings

Classes 26 and 27: Copyright, Compulsory and Statutory Licensing, and Collective Rights Organizations

Required Readings

  • Michael J. Madison, Compulsory Licenses and Regulatory Copyright, on the Copyright Law – Spring 2019 page on TWEN
  • Newton v. Diamond [pdf] [docx]
  • Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Dimension Films [pdf] [docx
  • Arista Records, LLC v. Launch Media, Inc. [pdf] [docx]
  • Slides from class

Topic 7:  Have The Problems Been Solved? The Futures of Copyright Law

Class 28: Reform Proposals

Assignment Number Three will be distributed during the last week of class. The Assignment will be due on the last day of exams.