Spring 2012

Prof. William Fisher


All of the materials for this course are available online. Each of the judicial opinions is available in both Adobe "pdf" and Microsoft Word versions. (The principal link for each case leads to the pdf version; the secondary link leads to the Word version.) The abridgments of the cases are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Sharealike 2.5 License, the terms of which are available here.

The lecture notes for the course, in the form of an interactive PDF "map," may be downloaded from the following website: Maps.htm



Introduction: The Structure of Copyright Law

A. A Typical Dispute (January 23)

B. The International Framework (January 24):


Part I: What is Protected?

A. Originality (January 25, 30)

B. The Idea/Expression Distinction (January 30-31; February 1)

Labor-Desert Theory (February 6):

Economic Theory (February 6-7) [no classs February 8]

C. Fixation (February 13)

D. Useful Articles (February 13-14)

E. Architecture (February 14)

F. Software (February 15)

Part II: Ownership

A. Authorship (February 20-21)

The Ideology of Creativity (February 21):

B. Formalities (February 22)

C. Duration, Renewals, and Transfers (February 27)

D. The Boundary between Copyright and the Public Domain (February 28)


Part III: Rights and Their Limitations

A. The Right to Reproduce (February 29, March 5)

B. The Right to Modify (March 6-7)

Personality Theory:  (March 19)

C. The Right to Distribute (March 20-21)

D. The Rights to Perform and Display (recorded lecture in lieu of makeup class)

E. Fair Use (March 26-28)

Cultural Theory (April 2)

F. Misuse (April 2)

G. Secondary Liability (April 3-4)


Part IV: Paracopyright

A. Technological Protection Measures (April 9-10)

B. Copyright Management Information (April 10)


Part V: Remedies

A. Equitable (April 11)

B. Legal (April 16-17)

C. Criminal (April 17)


Coda: The Future of the Entertainment Industry (April 18)




Reference Materials:

Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest

I sometimes represent parties in litigation and provide advice to companies and governments. Some of the issues that arise in those activities involve aspects of copyright law that are addressed in this course. To minimize the hazard that those activities would bias my presentations in the course, I provide on my homepage a disclosure of all of the activities at issue.



Version 3.0

Last modified: March 25, 2012

William Fisher