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Copyright - Spring 2024

This course explores copyright law and policy.  Approximately two thirds of the readings and class time are devoted to the American copyright system; the remainder are devoted to the major relevant multilateral treaties and to the laws pertaining to copyright and “neighboring rights” in other countries. Substantial attention is paid to the efforts of philosophers, economists, and social theorists to justify, reform, or abolish the copyright system.

The course is unusual in several respects.  First, the classes are different from those in most law-school courses.  Each week, one class takes the form of a recorded lecture.  (All of the lectures are available at  In-person classes are held on Mondays and Tuesdays.  Most consist of discussions of case studies, which are designed to explore in more depth and detail the rules and theories introduced in the week’s recorded lecture.  On occasion, the course also meets on Wednesdays (during the regular class meeting time) to hear guest speakers.

Next, the course lacks a traditional casebook.  Instead, all of the reading materials are available online ( and in a paper compendium that can be purchased through Amazon. 

Finally, the Harvard Law School course on Copyright will be paralleled by – and at times will overlap with – a networked course known as CopyrightX.  A detailed description of CopyrightX is available at  In brief, approximately 500 students from approximately 70 countries will be watching the same recorded lectures that you watch and will be reading a subset of the materials that you read.  Those students will be organized into “sections,” each led by a Harvard Teaching Fellow.  In addition, roughly 400 students will participate in affiliated courses in other universities, law firms, and nonprofit organizations, most of them in other countries.  You will have an opportunity (not an obligation) to interact with these other groups of students in two contexts:  they will join the class via an interactive webcast on the Wednesdays when guest speakers visit Harvard; and you can participate along with them in an online discussion forum.

For more information visit the Harvard Law School Course Catalog.