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Academic Entrepreneurship

From different corners comes new of IP law professors as entrepreneurs of different sorts, trying to impact the world of IP, creativity, and innovation in ways that are non-traditional (for law professors, at least):

Prof. Rebecca Tushnet (Georgetown) is helping to organize the “Organization for Transformative Works.”  The OTW site is here.  The mission, as Rebecca writes, is to preserve and defend fanworks.  It is also, I take it, to build a case that fandom is a credible, legitimate domain of creativity, deserving recognition not only in cultural terms — but also in fair use caselaw.

Prof. Doug Lichtman (UCLA) has launched the IP Colloquium, a series of downloadable “conversations” on IP law and policy that are targeted to lawyers — and with Continuing Legal Education credit.  (I assume that mashups of these and who-knows-what will appear on YouTube in due course!)

Profs. Lydia Loren and Joe Miller (Lewis & Clark) have launched Semaphore Press, which intends to release downloadable law school casebooks on a “Radiohead” model:  students should pay what they feel is appropriate, and please don’t share the file with others. The first release is a book for the Intellectual Property survey course, written by the founders. Other “digital casebooks” are available and have been for some time. The pricing model is new, though, as is the premise that they want to “publish” additional titles. No indication in the website regarding how their royalty structure works. I suspect that most prospective authors don’t care much. A more important question is this: How do digital downloads fit into tenure and promotion processes? And a still more important question is this: Can the books be re-mixed?

Interesting times.

3 thoughts on “Academic Entrepreneurship”

  1. Hi, Mike.

    Thanks for the shout out.

    On your remixing question, I think the answer is “yes,” as follows:

    We break our downloadable book into parts (each representing a class session) as well as chapters, and the whole book. Each is a pdf file.

    If one wants to use, e.g., three parts (sessions), we would ask the user to pay $3 … one dollar per part.

    What other remixing do you think we should offer?



  2. Joe,

    I haven’t yet looked at the book, but some possibilities include:

    Making each case and each problem (with notes/comments/questions) available separately, with some kind of widget interface for teachers who want to sequence them differently than you do and offer the remixed book as a customized, integrated download for their students.

    That’s a possibility that is consistent with the “offer a book” system. Here are some possibilities that blend online and offline functionality:

    Offer some kind of annotation / collaboration tool so that students can mark up the materials individually, if they are outlining the course, or collectively, if they’re working in groups on projects or otherwise.

    Add a tagging and commenting system that links casebook content to supplemental online resources, such as YouTube videos.


  3. Mike,

    Very cool ideas. They take lots more web savy than Lydia and I have. But they’re certainly worth contemplating in the longer term, as we get more authors to publish with us and have more resources to put into building functionality.



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