Intellectual Property

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Wednesday, 12:00-1:30pm
Format: Lecture, featuring guest respondents
Lead: William Fisher, featuring Charlie Nesson and Vivek Kundra TBC as a respondent

Led by William Fisher, this pillar will begin with a brief history of key theories and issues related copyright in the Internet space. By examining some of the hard problems and cases that have defined this field over the last decade, this session will explore some of the central questions that characterize current debates, including the wide spectrum of licensing options, the uncertainty about permissible uses associated with creative works, and the implications of cloud computing. Charlie Nesson will highlight questions regarding the public domain, free and fair use, and the need for digital copyright and public domain registries. This foundational pillar will lay the groundwork for two relevant use cases on User Innovation and Digital Libraries, Archives, and Rights Registries (which will take place on Thursday morning).

Driving Questions

  • William Fisher: To what extent, if any, is legal protection for creative works necessary either to stimulate creativity or to ensure that creators are treated fairly?

Required Readings

Overview / Introduction

Infringement and Damages

Intermediary Liability

  • 17 U.S.C. § 512, read §§ 512(c), (d), (f), and (g)
  • Viacom International Inc. v. YouTube, Inc. , (S.D.N.Y.), Civil Nos. 07-CV-2103 (LLS), 07-CV-3582 (LLS) (S.D.N.Y. June 23, 2010), read excerpts

Circumvention and Anti-Circumvention Provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)

Fair Use

Intellectual Property Theory

Recommended Readings

Copyright Course Materials. Since Fall 2010, the syllabus and materials for Professor William Fisher’s Harvard Law School “Copyright” course have been made available to the public. In addition to online resources, the syllabus links to “maps” which contain Professor Fisher’s lecture notes for all of his courses on intellectual property law. The four maps and collateral slide presentations contain overviews of the principal fields of intellectual property law, including copyright, patent, and trademark law, and intellectual property theory; June Casey of the Harvard Law School Library staff was enormously helpful in annotating them.

Related Case Examples

Digital Libraries, Archives, and Rights Registries
User Innovation
Cloud Computing

Related Videos


  • William Fisher discusses pre-digital copyright law and the Fair Use doctrine.