Copyright – Spring 2015

Spring 2015 Course
Meets: M, T, W 10:20am - 11:40am
4 classroom credits

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, there is no casebook for the course. Instead, all of the reading materials are available online: (Paper copies will also be available in the Distribution Center.)

Third, 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 300 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.

Finally, the exam for the course is unusual. It is divided into two segments. Part I is a three-hour, in-class, closed-book examination designed to test your knowledge of copyright doctrine. Part II is an unlimited-time take-home exam (due at the end of the exam period) designed to test your knowledge of copyright theory and policy.

Subject Areas: Intellectual Property, Cyberlaw and Technology, and Arts & Entertainment , Regulatory Law , International, Comparative & Foreign Law .

Last updated

September 8, 2014