IPL-201: Copyright Law
Welcome to Lawshelf’s course on copyright law. In this course, we’ll introduce you to copyrights and copyright protection and focus on enforcement of copyrights and defenses to that enforcement. This is an introductory level course and no prior knowledge in intellectual property law is required.
A copyright is an intellectual property device that protects a creative work from duplication if it is fixed in a tangible medium. The course will look at the types of creations that can be protected by copyright law and the ramifications of that protection, all governed by Title 17 of the United States Code.
This course is divided into two sections. The first deals with the types of works that can be copyrighted and how one achieves copyright protection. The second looks at the types of actions can be taken to defend copyrights and possible defenses to copyright actions.
The first part of the course covers the copyright requirements of originality, creativity and fixation in a tangible medium. We will distinguish between non-copyrightable “ideas” and copyrightable expressions. We spend much of our time looking at the important applications of these ideas to computer programs and software, which have often rendered traditional copyright rules anachronistic. Included in this discussion are the effects of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.
The course next next turns to copyright duration, renewal and termination and how they are applied to copyrighted works based on the years that the works were created.
Finally, the first part of the course looks at notice and registration, and compliance with registration and recording procedures with the United States Copyright Office. While these steps are not required for copyright protection to attach, we will discuss the important benefits that they bestow.
The second part of the course, Copyright Enforcement and Defenses, follows up by looking at the ways a copyright is protected, how to build on a copyrighted work, the transfer and licensing of copyrights and copyright infringement. This section begins by focusing on the “work for hire” doctrine and determining a copyright’s true owner when two or more parties contribute to a copyrighted work. We’ll look at the ramifications of building on a copyrighted work and how and when copyright protection shifts from the original creator to a party that modifies it, specifically discussing the differences between collective works, compilations and derivative works.
In its third module, this section of the course discusses fair use, an important defense to copyright infringement. We’ll discuss the fair use doctrine under Section 107 of the Copyright Code and elucidate the necessary elements to successfully assert fair use and how courts evaluate alleged infringers’ uses of the defense. Here, we also learn about the fate of copyrighted works that make their ways into the public domain and what the “public domain” includes. Copyright ownership doesn’t remain fixed, as an owner can transfer or license rights associated with a copyrighted work to another. We’ll address what’s needed for an enforceable licensing agreement and how the original owner can recapture his rights. We’ll wrap up the course by exploring copyright enforcement, how an infringement suit proceeds and an aggrieved copyright holder’s potential remedies.
The goal of this course is to allow you to apply the copyright rules to determine whether work can be copyrighted, how copyright protection can be established, how it can be enforced and under what circumstances copyrighted materials can be used even without permission of the copyright holder.
Best of luck and we welcome your feedback.