COPYRIGHT LAW – SPRING 2017

READINGS — OVERVIEW AND LIST OF CLASS ASSIGNMENTS

OVERVIEW

How to read the Syllabus: 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 we will have more class meetings than there are assignments. I will make every effort to incorporate new developments in copyright law into the Syllabus, where appropriate.

Required Materials – Cases

The cases identified for each assignment are the principal cases to be discussed that day. These are free, open materials that can be downloaded at the links following the case name. PDF and MS Word doc versions are available. You may print as much or as little of each file as you wish; you may annotate, edit, and/or cut-and-paste all or parts of each file as you wish.

Required Materials – Secondary Readings

In addition to the principal cases, several assignments include links to required news articles and also to required material from Intellectual Property: Law & the Information Society—Cases and Materials (3rd edition) by James Boyle and Jennifer Jenkins. This is a free, open casebook that can be downloaded from this site, both in full and on a chapter-by-chapter basis. This syllabus requires that you only read selections from the book, but of course all students are welcome to download and read the entire thing. A hard copy version is available for purchase at the authors’ website. Readings from the casebook are referred to below as “Boyle & Jenkins.”

Required Materials – Statutes

In addition to the assigned readings, where a case or other material refers to the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code), you are responsible for locating and reading the section(s) of the Act to which the text refers. If you do not own a copy of the Copyright Act, you can access a free, online version here. Each assignment identifies the primary sections of the Copyright Act that are implicated in the readings for that assignment.

Optional Materials

Many of the assignments include links to films, film clips, music selections, computer programs, and secondary readings that illustrate and/or expand on the points made by the required readings for that assignment.  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.

LIST OF CLASS ASSIGNMENTS

I. Introduction

Class 1:  An Introduction to Copyright’s Institutional Settings:  The Music Industry

Required:  Read the following article from the New York Times Magazine about the role of so-called collecting societies in the music industry:

Required:  Read news coverage of the process by which webcasters (such as Pandora) establish royalty rates for the music they play:

Class 2: Why Copyright? Historical Context and Introductory Problems

Required:

  • Read Boyle & Jenkins, Ch. 1 and Ch. 10.
  • Is the Batmobile subject to copyright?  Read DC Comics v. Towle [pdf] [docx]

Optional:

  • History of the Batmobile
  • (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 2017 page on TWEN, under “Course Materials.”

II. The Purposes of Copyright, as Measured by Limitations: Fair Use

Class 3: Fair Use Basics – Cultural Interchange

Required:

  • 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]

Optional:

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

Required:

  • A&M Records, Inc. v. Napster, Inc. [pdf] [docx]
  • American Geophysical Union v. Texaco, Inc. [pdf] [docx]

Class 5: The Cutting Edge of Fair Use

Required:

  • The Authors Guild v. Google, Inc. [pdf] [docx]

Optional:  

Read the following three articles from the New York Review of Books written by Professor Robert Darnton, 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.]

III. The Subject Matter of Copyright Law

Class 6: Fixation

Required:

  • 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]

Optional:

Class 7: Originality

Required:

  • 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]

Optional:

Class 8: The Idea/Expression Distinction

Required:

  • 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]

Optional:

Class 9: Authorship and Ownership 

  • 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]

Optional:

Class 10: Boundary Problems – Derivative Works and Compilations

Required:

  • Section 103 of the Copyright Act and relevant selections from Section 101
  • L. Batlin & Son v. Snyder [pdf] [docx]
  • Entertainment Research Group, Inc. v. Genesis Creative Group, Inc. [pdf] [docx]
  • Roth Greeting Cards v. United Card Co. [pdf] [docx]
  • Mason v. Montgomery Data, Inc. [pdf] [docx]

Optional:

  • Re-read the Batmobile materials from Class 2

Memorandum Assignment Number One will be distributed around this time. The Assignment will be due on Friday, February 17, 2017.

Class 11: Boundary Problems – Useful Articles with Pictorial, Graphic, or Sculptural Aspects

Required:

Optional:

IV. 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:

  • 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]

Optional:

Class 13: The Reproduction Right

Required:

  • 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]

Optional:

Read about the lawsuit between the estate of Marvin Gaye and Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams over Blurred Lines and Got to Give It Up, and listen to the music:

Class 14: The Distribution Right

Required:

  • 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]

Optional:

  • 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:

  • 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]

Optional:

Class 16: The Public Performance and Public Display Rights

Required:

Optional:

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

Required:

  • 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]

Memorandum Assignment Number Two will be distributed around this time. The Assignment will be due on Friday, April 7, 2017.

V. Who is Liable? Secondary Liability

Classes 19 and 20: Identifying Defendants

Required:

  • 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]

Class 21 and 22:  Service Providers

Required:

  • Section 512 of the Copyright Act
  • Viacom Int’l v. YouTube, Inc. [pdf] [docx]
  • Lenz v. Universal Music Corp. [pdf] [docx]

Optional:

VI. Regulatory Copyright 

Class 23: Formalities

Required:

  • Michael J. Madison, Formalities, on the Copyright Law – Spring 2017 page on TWEN
  • Estate of Martin Luther King, Jr., Inc. v. CBS, Inc. [pdf] [docx]

Optional:

Class 24: Duration; Renewals and Terminations of Transfers

Required:

Optional:

Classes 25 and 26: Copyright, Compulsory and Statutory Licensing, and Collective Rights Organizations

Required:

  • Michael J. Madison, Compulsory Licenses and Regulatory Copyright, on the Copyright Law – Spring 2017 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]

Optional:

VII. The Futures of Copyright Law

Class 27: Reform Proposals

Required:

Optional:

Class 28: Present and Future Controversies

Readings to be determined; topics may include the state of the public domain [lawsuits involving “This Land is Your Land” and “The Andy Griffith Show”], fan fiction and consumer control of consumption and reuse of copyrighted works [the lawsuit against VidAngel], and Big Data and algorithmic control of content creation and copyright enforcement.  Stay tuned!

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