About Prof. Jamar's Copyrights Class

© 2003-08 Steven D. Jamar

Site Navigation Links

Copyrights Course Links

Course Materials

Music for Instruction

Copyright is an interesting and challenging field which is constantly changing.  The protection of intellectual property in general, including copyright, has exploded as a matter of national and international concern in the past 20 years. Twenty-five years ago copyright was a field known only to a relatively few specialists and largely of concern only to them and their clients in the publishing, music, and movie industries. Today, there are many copyright subspecialties and every commercial lawyer should know something about the field in order to properly advise clients on a broad range of topics.

Protection of copyright is almost exclusively within federal jurisdiction, although certain neighboring rights are protected by the states and licensing is largely a matter of state law.

Copyrights is in part a statutory course -- there is a federal copyright statute and all copyright analysis starts there. (The statute and parts of relevant treaties and other statutes and regulations are in the coursebook supplement.) Nonetheless, and not surprisingly, cases played a critical role in developing the doctrines which ultimately became codifed in the current statute and continue to play the important roles of interpreting the statute. The cases also provide us with stories that help us understand the principles involved. The cases are varied and many of them are quite interesting. A few are examples of prose writing at its finest in any field.

Copyright law is intimately connected to the creative act. Should copyright protect only fine art or should schlock art also receive protection? Should functional or utilitarian works such as computer word processing programs be given copyright protection or should copyright be limited to more fanciful material? In order to better understand and appreciate some of these concerns, there will be several projects for you to do as part of the course. Each project will require the creation by you of a copyrightable or at least potentially copyrightable work. The creative works are required and each is worth up to 5 or 10 points. Though the quality of the work itself will not be graded, merely pro forma submissions will not receive full points.