COPYRIGHT LAW MEMO ASSIGNMENTS – SPRING 2016

Each memo assignment for Copyright Law – Spring 2016 will be posted here approximately two weeks before the memo is due. Time in class will be set aside to discuss questions relating to each assignment.

For students who want to know more about the writing assignments for this course, this is a link to the memo assignments from Spring 2010. That link includes links to the best memos written in response to the first assignment from that version of the course.

You SHOULD also review this “How to Memo” document, which summarizes my advice for writing a great memo in my Trademark Law and Copyright Law courses.

The rubric used to mark the memos is available here.

Assignment Three

To:  Outside Counsel, Dewey, Cheatem & Howe
From:  Managing Editor, Big Bully Publishing, Inc.
Re:  Rights Clearance Issue
Date:  April 18, 2016

One of our authors is publishing a book about soccer.  He wants to use an old photograph on the cover.  We’ve told him that he needs to clear any relevant rights to the image. As you know, everything that we publish goes into multiple formats — print, e-book, online (including previews of chapters and pages at Amazon), and multimedia/Internet (parts of pretty much every one of our titles now goes onto an author’s website and social media streams with images, videos, etc.), and international equivalents.

The author is willing to do whatever is needed, but he wants to know what rights, exactly, he needs, and where and how he should get them.  Can you write up a short (three or four page max) memo that summarizes that information for him?  (It needs to be short because both he and our editors aren’t lawyers.) He’s a bright guy, so he’s going to want some explanation as to why, exactly, each of these things matters.

Here’s the photo:

He says that the photo was taken in California in 1974 by a family friend, and that it appeared in print in the November 1974 issue of a magazine published in California called “Soccer America.” I think that we can safely rely on that information.

I need this from you by Thursday, May 5 at 12 noon.

Rules and Guidelines for Assignment Three

To the extent that these rules may appear to conflict with general advice regarding memos that appears in course-related webpages, these rules take precedence.

This is an “open” problem, meaning that there are no limits on the resources that you may bring to bear on your work. Among other things, you may consult with your classmates and other human beings. If you discuss the merits of the assignment with anyone, however, you must disclose that person’s identity on or in your memo. Write the names of any of these “consultants” at the top of the first page of the memo.

Use your own name in the “From” field. The memos are not anonymous.

Format

Memos must be typed or printed using a computer. Each memo, including any attachments, must be not longer than four [4] typewritten or printed pages, double-spaced, with 1″ minimum margins on all sides. (“To,” “From,” “Re,” and “Date” headings may be single spaced.) You do not need to include a comprehensive statement of the facts; instead, you may refer to the factual background in my memo to you. A factual summary may be helpful, however, in framing and presenting the analysis of the memo. No footnotes are permitted. The following font must be used: Twelve [12] point Times New Roman.

So that the memos can be uploaded to the TWEN system in Westlaw (see below), and graded electronically, you must use Microsoft WORD for the final version of the memo.

Grading

Memoranda will be graded based on form, format, and writing quality as well as on content. The assignments are designed so as not to have any single correct or even best solution. Each problem may present a range of issues that the memorandum should identify, analyze, and solve in a creative way.

Due date

One copy of the work product prepared for this assignment must be turned in not later than Thursday, May 5, 2016, at 12 noon.

Memos must be turned in via the course TWEN page (on Westlaw), by depositing an electronic copy in the TWEN “Drop Box” for Assignment Two for this course. Electronic (e-mailed) copies are not acceptable. Memos slipped under anyone’s door are not acceptable.

There were be no extensions or exceptions to this deadline. Memoranda that do not conform to the format instructions above, or that are turned in late, are subject to grade reductions.

 

Assignment Two

To: Junior Lawyer, Dewey, Cheatem & Howe
From: Senior Lawyer, Dewey, Cheatem & Howe
Re: Prints problem
Date: March 18, 2016

Our client Posters Posters Posters (or P3, for short) just called me with a problem. I need you to look into this for me.

P3’s main business is producing high-quality poster versions of famous, public domain paintings, for sale in museum shops. The posters are produced with the permission of the relevant museums, which have to approve P3’s access to their paintings. Each poster is a faithful reproduction of the source painting, though frequently during the production process P3 technicians “re-balance” the colors in the source painting so that the poster version is a slightly brighter, more attractive version of the original. Each poster copy of a public domain painting sells for about $20.

P3 has learned that another company, Diligent Art (I’ll call it D, for short), has been buying copies of P3’s posters in these museum shops, then somehow transferring the content of the posters onto contemporary canvases. The posters themselves aren’t on the canvases, I think; instead, the images on the posters have been transferred to the canvases. D sells these “paintings” – canvas versions of P3’s posters – to consumers, for hundreds of dollars per copy.

P3 doesn’t know exactly how D goes about making D’s “paintings,” but the color balances in D’s canvas products make it clear that D has somehow transferred the content of each poster to the new work.

P3 wants to challenge D in court. I need you to study the law and figure out whether P3 has a case. Does it? What are its strengths and weaknesses? Does it matter what D does with the posters or how it makes its paintings? What should I tell P3?

I need a short, four-page maximum writeup of your analysis by Friday, April 1 at 3 pm.

Rules and Guidelines for Assignment Two

To the extent that these rules may appear to conflict with general advice regarding memos that appears in course-related webpages, these rules take precedence.

This is an “open” problem, meaning that there are no limits on the resources that you may bring to bear on your work. Among other things, you may consult with your classmates and other human beings. If you discuss the merits of the assignment with anyone, however, you must disclose that person’s identity on or in your memo. Write the names of any of these “consultants” at the top of the first page of the memo.

Use your own name in the “From” field. The memos are not anonymous.

Format

Memos must be typed or printed using a computer. Each memo, including any attachments, must be not longer than four [4] typewritten or printed pages, double-spaced, with 1″ minimum margins on all sides. (“To,” “From,” “Re,” and “Date” headings may be single spaced.) You do not need to include a comprehensive statement of the facts; instead, you may refer to the factual background in my memo to you. A factual summary may be helpful, however, in framing and presenting the analysis of the memo. No footnotes are permitted. The following font must be used: Twelve [12] point Times New Roman.

So that the memos can be uploaded to the TWEN system in Westlaw (see below), and graded electronically, you must use Microsoft WORD for the final version of the memo.

Grading

Memoranda will be graded based on form, format, and writing quality as well as on content. The assignments are designed so as not to have any single correct or even best solution. Each problem may present a range of issues that the memorandum should identify, analyze, and solve in a creative way.

Due date

One copy of the work product prepared for this assignment must be turned in not later than Friday, April 1, 2016, at 3 pm.

Memos must be turned in via the course TWEN page (on Westlaw), by depositing an electronic copy in the TWEN “Drop Box” for Assignment Two for this course. Electronic (e-mailed) copies are not acceptable. Memos slipped under anyone’s door are not acceptable.

There were be no extensions or exceptions to this deadline. Memoranda that do not conform to the format instructions above, or that are turned in late, are subject to grade reductions.

Assignment One

To: Junior Lawyer, Dewey Cheatem & Howe
From: Senior Lawyer, Dewey Cheatem & Howe
Date: February 1, 2016
Re: Statuette Question

I had a call today from our client Tom, president of the local Pittsburgh non-profit “FutureLaw.” FutureLaw is hosting a small conference in a couple of weeks, bringing to town about two dozen thought leaders for a closed, by-invitation-only conversation about the future of the legal profession and legal education. Tom would like to give each of them a small token of appreciation for their time and service, and that’s why he’s called us. He doesn’t want to run into copyright problems.

The gift that Tom has in mind is a three-dimensional four-inch tall plastic replica of the University of Pittsburgh Cathedral of Learning, which (in real life) is 42 stories tall. Tom is an adjunct professor of law at Pitt’s law school, and one of his law students is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh engineering program. That student volunteered to use his personal 3D printer to manufacture a set of replicas of the Cathedral of Learning, using a 3D model of the Cathedral (an .stl format piece of digital code) that the student found on a “maker” site on the Internet. Each four-inch tall replica would be made of ABS, which is a strong, shiny plastic used by 3D printers to manufacture custom designed objects. Each replica would be an exact copy of the Cathedral of Learning, subject to reductions in detail based on the object’s size and the capabilities of the material used.

Tom doesn’t know exactly where the model for the replicas came from. He says that the student told him that the model was posted on line by someone working for a design firm that was commissioned by the University of Pittsburgh to produce high-quality, highly-detailed 10-inch tall replicas of the Cathedral of Learning using a commercial grade 3D printer and a different, more durable plastic material. (The student would simply adjust the dimensions of the model in order to produce the smaller replicas for Tom.) Those replicas were not manufactured for the university to sell, and so far as Tom knows, it isn’t possible to buy 3D printed versions of the Cathedral anywhere, for any purpose.

Tom was trained originally as an IP lawyer, and his instinct is that there may be a copyright problem in here. But he’s not sure. He’s asked us: Can he give these small models of the Cathedral to his conference attendees without running into copyright trouble?

I need a short, four-page maximum writeup of your analysis by Monday, February 15 at 3 pm.

Rules and Guidelines for Assignment One

To the extent that these rules may appear to conflict with general advice regarding memos that appears in course-related webpages, these rules take precedence.

This is an “open” problem, meaning that there are no limits on the resources that you may bring to bear on your work. Among other things, you may consult with your classmates and other human beings. If you discuss the merits of the assignment with anyone, however, you must disclose that person’s identity on or in your memo. Write the names of any of these “consultants” at the top of the first page of the memo.

Use your own name in the “From” field. The memos are not anonymous.

Format

Memos must be typed or printed using a computer. Each memo, including any attachments, must be not longer than four [4] typewritten or printed pages, double-spaced, with 1″ minimum margins on all sides. (“To,” “From,” “Re,” and “Date” headings may be single spaced.) You do not need to include a comprehensive statement of the facts; instead, you may refer to the factual background in my memo to you. A factual summary may be helpful, however, in framing and presenting the analysis of the memo. No footnotes are permitted. The following font must be used: Twelve [12] point Times New Roman.

So that the memos can be uploaded to the TWEN system in Westlaw (see below), and graded electronically, you must use Microsoft WORD for the final version of the memo.

Grading

Memoranda will be graded based on form, format, and writing quality as well as on content. The assignments are designed so as not to have any single correct or even best solution. Each problem may present a range of issues that the memorandum should identify, analyze, and solve in a creative way.

Due date

One copy of the work product prepared for this assignment must be turned in not later than Monday, February 15, 2016, at 3 pm.

Memos must be turned in via the course TWEN page (on Westlaw), by depositing an electronic copy in the TWEN “Drop Box” for Assignment One for this course. Electronic (e-mailed) copies are not acceptable. Memos slipped under anyone’s door are not acceptable.

There were be no extensions or exceptions to this deadline. Memoranda that do not conform to the format instructions above, or that are turned in late, are subject to grade reductions.