COPYRIGHT LAW WRITING ASSIGNMENTS – SPRING 2018

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Basic requirements and mechanicsThe graded work for this course consists of three short (3-4 pp.) writing assignments. These may consist of legal memoranda (to colleagues, clients, or others); explanatory email messages (again, to one or more audiences); or PowerPoint [or equivalent] slide decks (in which the lawyer communicates by the content of the slide deck, not by delivering a presentation orally). Each assignment will be posted here approximately two weeks before the assignment is due. Also before the assignment is due, time in class will be set aside to discuss questions relating to each assignment.
Format expectationsPrior versions of this course have required that writing assignments be produced in solely in the format of traditional legal memos. That expectation has changed, because lawyers today increasingly communicate in other formats and other media. This course may require different formats.
How to succeedAlthough the formats may change, professional expectations regarding effective communication have not changed. Legal writing in every setting should be clear, consistent, polished, expert, ethical, responsive, and trustworthy. Those expectations apply to this course. For guidance regarding those expectations and how they apply to the graded work for this course, students are strongly encouraged to read and re-read this "Modern Legal Writing" document, which summarizes advice for producing a great work product in Professor Madison's Trademark Law and Copyright Law courses.
Sample questionsFor students who want to know more about the assignments for this course, here are links to some prior assignments:
RubricThe rubric used to mark the assignments is available here.

Assignment Three

To: Junior Lawyer, Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe
From: Senior Lawyer, Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe
Date: April 17, 2018
Re: Client startup idea

We have a new client, a startup company called Celestial Jukebox, or CelJuke. Their basic idea is “Google Books meets Shazam.” This is the detailed plan, as I understand it:

CelJuke wants to sign up subscribers (users) to a free online service where users would upload short (5 to 10 second) music clips that users would capture on smartphones using Shazam and other music recognition apps. (Actual music recognition apps work by capturing and comparing “fingerprints” of musical recordings to a massive database of these “fingerprints,” so important technical details have to be worked out.) Users would upload short bits of musical recordings – what the client calls musical “snippets” and identifying data, generated by the Shazam-like app – to the CelJuke service, eventually creating a massive online storehouse of short musical clips.

CelJuke users who want to just hear the clips would be able to simply listen, via a stream at the service. Users would be able to download and save clips only via the “genre translator,” so that any clip downloaded from CelJuke would be transformed from its original musical genre to one of several dozen different musical genres. A rock ‘n’ roll clip could be downloaded as a blues riff, for example, but not as its original rock ‘n’ roll version. The reason for the “genre translator” is to prevent the musical snippets from being used, in their original forms, as ringtones.

The whole enterprise would be free to users. The business model would generate revenue by selling advertisements on the service.

The service is still in the design phase. The two founders have asked for a quick review of their plans, per the above. They are looking for advice on barriers posed by copyright law, and possible solutions. I have scheduled a presentation for the founders for the end of May. I would like you to research and prepare a set of talking points and related analysis that I can use in that presentation.

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 work product. Write the names of any of these “consultants” at the top of the first page of the work product.

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

Format

Your work product in response to this assignment should be formatted in one of two ways: (i) as an email rather than as a default or standard “legal research memo.” Your email should consist of not more than 1,200 words, excluding the header (To, From, Subject line, Date). In printed form, it should have 1″ minimum margins on all sides. OR (ii) as a set of PowerPoint slides, prepared for delivery as a printed work product, rather than as a guide or accompaniment to an oral presentation. Including a title slide, the total PowerPoint “slide deck” should consist of no more than 25 slides.

[For guidance and suggestions regarding how to prepare professional PowerPoint slides, review these examples.]

So that your work product can be uploaded to the TWEN system in Westlaw (see below) and graded electronically, you must use Microsoft WORD (in the case of option (i)) or Microsoft PowerPoint (in the case of option (ii)).

Grading

Work product 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 work product 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 Tuesday, May 8, 2018, at 12 noon.

Your work product 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. Although the work product should be formatted as an email, electronic (e-mailed) copies are not acceptable. Work product slipped under anyone’s door are not acceptable.

There were be no extensions or exceptions to this deadline. Work product that does not conform to the format instructions above, or that is turned in late, is subject to grade reduction.

Assignment Two

To: Junior Associate, Dewey, Cheathem & Howe
From: Senior Partner, Dewey, Cheathem & Howe
Date: March 23, 2018
Re: New Ninth Circuit cases

As you undoubtedly know already, the Ninth Circuit recently decided two cases dealing with copyright’s doctrine of infringement by substantially similar copying: Rentmeester v. Nike, Inc., 883 F.3d 1111 (9th Cir. 2018), and Williams v. Gaye, ___ F.3d ___, 2018 WL 1403577 (9th Cir. Mar. 21, 2018).

My brief review of legal news commentary on Williams v. Gaye suggests that there is a lot of uncertainty and confusion about the state of the law in the Ninth Circuit, given the earlier decision in Rentmeester. These two cases appear to be in some conflict with each other. Maybe there is a lot of conflict.

Our firm has a lot of California-based clients with strong interests in copyright law. I’d like you to do a deep dive into these two cases and come up with a relatively brief (1,200 words max.) summary of key takeaways that I can share with them. Please focus on the two opinions’ discussions of substantial similarity, and explain the key, important points about the law today in the Ninth Circuit: what’s strong, what’s weak, what’s clear, and what’s not.

Some of our clients are involved primarily in the music industry, some in film, some in photography, some in video game design and development, and some in software. It’s a broad and diverse bunch. As you know, our advice to clients sometimes differs depending on the client’s field, so if your read of the new cases is that field matters in some respects, that would be important to know as well.

You can find the two opinions at the links below. I’ve deleted a bunch of material from each one that you can safely ignore for purposes of this request.

Rules and Guidelines for Assignment Two

To the extent that these rules may appear to conflict with general advice regarding writing assignments 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 work product. Write the names of any of these “consultants” at the top of the first page of the document.

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

Format

Your work product in response to this assignment should be formatted as an email rather than as a default or standard “legal research memo.” It must be typed or printed using a computer. Your email should consist of not more than 1,200 words, excluding the header (To, From, Subject line, Date). In printed form, it should have 1″ minimum margins on all sides.

So that your email can be uploaded to the TWEN system in Westlaw (see below) and graded electronically, you must use Microsoft WORD.

Grading

Work product 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 work product 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 6, 2018, at 3 p.m.

Your work product 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. Although the work product should be formatted as an email, electronic (e-mailed) copies are not acceptable. Work product slipped under anyone’s door are not acceptable.

There will be no extensions or exceptions to this deadline. Work product that does not conform to the format instructions above, or that is turned in late, is subject to grade reduction.

Assignment One

To: Tom Cheathem, Dewey, Cheathem & Howe
From: Lou Smith, Tre Linguine Analytics
Date: February 2, 2018
Re: Copyright question

Tom, you’ve been TLA’s outside lawyer and IP lawyer since we got this startup company off the ground last year. As TLA has evolved its business toward a focus on modern language processing and analytics, I’ve realized that we need some basic copyright advice.

The question is this: Does Google own copyrights in the output of its “Google Translate” service (translate.google.com)?

Here’s my reason for asking: TLA’s emerging business model consists of helping corporations translate into English business documents that were created in languages other than English. Google’s free online “Translate” service can handle content of up to modest length and up to modest complexity. TLA has developed computer software that acts as an interface with respect to Google Translate for purposes of translating longer, denser, and more complex material. Our clients will bring us documents that consist of hundreds of pages of legalese; we will prepare the documents using our software, then feed the output into the Google Translate service, and deliver the results to the clients.

It seems to us that Google shouldn’t own any rights in the output of a free translation service, but I’d like your opinion. Do we have anything to worry about here? We certainly do not want to get sued.

Thanks.

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

You should use the default or standard “legal research memo” format for this assignment. 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, February 16, 2018, at 3 p.m.

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.