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 http://copyx.org/lectures/.) 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: http://copyx.org/hls-syllabus/. (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
http://copyx.org. 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.