CC assignments

Fair Use Paper (30 points)(Due by email before class on February 25)

Choose a work (book, film, painting, piece of music, etc.) that incorporates other works within it. A collage painting, for example, might use pieces of newspaper advertisements; a documentary film might include archival footage; a hip hop song might sample other songs. Your chosen work might have originally relied on fair use or the artist or author might have paid a licensing fee to use the other material. You don’t need to know the specific permission details. You just need to provide your own fair use analysis. It should not be a work that was the subject of a public copyright dispute or lawsuit.

After choosing your example, write a 1500-word paper arguing that the use of the other works is either a fair use or not (or some combination if more than one work is incorporated).

You should rely on the four-factor test. For example, has the author or artist taken more than he or she needed? Would consumers use the second work in place of the first? Is the second work commenting on the first? Has the second work transformed the context of the first? Do the two works serve different purposes? You might also consider other factors. Does the use serve the public interest? Is the use so negligible that it doesn’t need to be compensated (i.e. de minimus)?

Final Paper or Project (50 points)

Due by email March 27: paper proposal

Due by email April 15: a working bibliography with 10 sources

Due by email May 1: final paper

Option A) Write a 3000-word research paper on a topic that I have approved. You must have a thesis that you argue for and support. A stronger paper will discuss complications of the argument and try to see different sides of the issues.

You must have footnotes or endnotes and use an accepted format (MLA, Chicago, etc.). You might want to consult Van Pelt’s citation format page:

Option B) (Much harder than option A. Look before you leap!) Propose a creative project involving copyright. It might be a video or audio mashup, a creative use of public domain or Creative Commons-licensed material, a project that requires the licensing of copyrighted (or non-copyrighted) material, or anything else you can imagine. In addition to your project, you must write a five-page paper that explains the copyright implications of the project. Which aspects of copyright are explained, complicated, or explored by your project?

consider submitting your essay to the Penn Undergraduate Law Journal


MLA Citation Style

Chicago Manual of Style


Public Knowledge

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Free Press

Copyright Office

1709 Copyright Blog

Google Public Policy Blog




Lexis-Nexis (everything)

Social Science Research Network (articles)

JSTOR (journals)

Thomas (legislation)

Project Muse (journals)

Pew Internet (polls)

EBSCO (articles)

Historical Newspapers

Google Scholar (with PennText links)