Copyright (grad)


spring 2018
222 Fisher-Bennett

Prof. Peter Decherney | 211 Fisher-Bennett Hall

Assignments (detailed assignments below)
(1) class participation (20 points)
(2) 1500-word paper on fair use (30 points)
(3) 4000-word research paper on a topic of your choice (50 points)
(4) in-class presentations (ungraded)

(1) Decherney, Hollywood’s Copyright Wars
(2) Raustiala and Sprigman, The Knockoff Economy
(3) links to all other reading is below



Jan 17 – What is Copyright?

Jan 24 – From Shakespeare to the Constitution
Thomas Jefferson letter to Isaac McPherson
Lewis Hyde, “What is a Commons?”
Lawrence Lessig, Free Culture, ch. 6
Patterson and Lindberg, The Nature of Copyright, ch. 3

Jan 31 – Fair Use
Rebecca Tushnet, “My Fair Ladies: Gender and Fair Use in Copyright”
Cariou v Prince (2013)
David Cameron, Silicon Roundabout Speech
video: YouTube Copyright School


Feb 7 – Music and Movies
Decherney, HCW, chs. 1-2
Bleistein v. Donaldson Lithographing (1903) [advertisements]
White-Smith Publishing v. Apollo (1908) [player piano]
Burrow-Giles v Sarony [photography]
Edward Samuels, from The Illustrated Story of Copyright
From McLeod and DiCola, Creative License

Feb 14 – From the VCR to the Internet
Decherney, HCW, ch. 4 and 201-235.
Richard Stallman, “The Right to Read”
Decherney on Aereo and the Home and “Smart is the New Locked”
Greg Lastowka, Virtual Justice, ch 9
Elenora Rosati, “Artificial Intelligence and Copyright”
Jeffrey Rosen on Google
2017-2018 DMCA exemption rulemaking documents (

Feb 21 – Open
First half: joint class with Environmental Humanities Seminar, meet at the Philomatheans’ Aerie at the top of College Hall. Second half of class: Fair Use presentations back in FBH,
John Perry Barlow, “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace”
Yochi Benkler, from The Wealth of Networks, ch. 3
Aram Sinnreich on Kopimism

presentations: Erik, Kathryn, Jen, Joseph, Michael

Feb 28 – Fair Use Presentations: Nicholas, Sylvia, Brea, Jacqueline, Caroline, Danny, Amanda

Fair Use Papers Due by Midnight, email to

Mar 7 – spring break


Mar 14 – Alternative Systems: Moral Rights, Socialist Copyright, and Indigenous Cultures
Decherney, HCW, ch. 3
Aalmuhammed v. Lee (2000)
William Alford, from To Steal a Book is an Elegant Offense
Christine Haight Farley, “Protecting Folklore of Indigenous People”


Mar 21 – Fans, Collectors, and Scholars
Henry Jenkins, “Quentin Tarantino’s Star Wars” (also:  Godzilla Versus Disco Lando)
Rebecca Tushnet,“Payment in Credit”
D.T. Max, “The Injustice Collector”
Decherney on Mein Kampf and ‘Happy Birthday’
Klinger v. Conan Doyle Estate (2013)
MGM v. Honda (1995) (also: Honda “Escape” Commercial)
Decherney, HCW, conclusion
On the Isle of Man’s Experiment
William Patry, from How to Fix Copyright

March 28 – Norms and Copyright Free Zones
Raustiala and Sprigman, The Knockoff Economy

April 4 & 11 – NO CLASS

April 18 – presentations (Amanda, Danny, Caroline, Jackie)

April 25 – presentations (Brea, Sylvia, Nicholas, Michael)

May 2 – presentations (Jen, Joe, Kathryn, Erik)

FINAL PAPERS DUE by midnight May 4



Fair Use Paper (30 points)

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)

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:


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)