Copyright Law

Georgetown Law Center, Fall 2008

Professor Rob Kasunic

W 5:45 - 8:45

Room 202



Text: Copyright In a Global Information Economy, Second Edition, by Cohen, Loren, Okediji and O’Rourke  

and 2008 Case and Statutory Supplement  

I may also provide more recent material as links or documents on Courseware, or links on my website at: www.kasunic.com.


Office Hours:  I will make myself available after class to meet with students or would be glad to arrange a meeting at a mutually convenient time, most likely in the Adjunct Faculty Office or the Faculty Lounge. You can contact me at the Copyright Office at rkas@loc.gov. If you need to reach me by phone, my number at the Copyright Office is (202) 707- 0229.  

Attendance and Class Participation: You are expected to attend class regularly and to be prepared to discuss the material.  

You are allowed up to two class absences (in addition to any religious holidays) and do not need to explain the reason for these absences to me. However, absences in excess of two classes may either bar you from taking the exam or result in a lowered grade. Repeated lateness or leaving class early will also be considered an absence. I will be passing out an attendance sheet at the beginning of each class.  

While I would prefer to have students volunteer for class participation and encourage everyone to participate in the discussion of issues and cases, I will be dividing the class into three or four groups in the event involuntary participation is necessary. Each group will be responsible for particular topics that will be circulated by the third class. Class participation may increase your grade up to 5% of your final grade and will be based on the quality of your participation.

 In order to get to know your names, I will be passing around a seating chart at the second class. Make sure you choose a seat you like and stick with it for the remainder of the class. If I can’t find you in your seat for a substantial percentage of a class, I’ll mark you absent even if your name appears in the sign in sheet. If you forget where you’re supposed to sit, ask me to look at the chart.  

Also, while I hope to encourage a dialogue amongst students in class, I do not appreciate disruptive side conversations or distracting use of laptops. Just because the screen is facing away from me does not mean that I can’t see an instant message leave one student’s computer and arrive at another. If I can’t tell that you’re watching a YouTube clip from your face, it’s all too apparent from others next to you or behind you.  

Student Paragraphs: No later than Tuesday before our class meets (beginning on the third class), I would like each student to send me at least a paragraph or two on some thoughts related to the readings for the class session. The content of the comment is open-ended and may include something in the news that relates to the week’s reading, thoughts or concerns that arise from the readings or cases, or reflections on a question I asked you to think about for the next class. These mandatory comments will not be individually graded, but will be reviewed by me and assist me in designing our class discussion for the week and can also earn you up to a 5% increase on your final grade based on the quality of your comments. The only way you can lose credit is by failing to send these mandatory comments (although you are allowed to skip 3 times). Since there are thirteen classes and the comments begin on the third class, this means that you must send at least 10 email comments to me during the semester. While I’m sure some of you some of you will grumble, last year, I found that I learned more about some individual students from these comments than I did in class.

 Send the comments to rkas@loc.gov and write “Copyright Comment” in the subject line along with the relevant class number of the comment, e.g., Copyright Comment 5 (referring to your comment for the fifth class meeting).    

Assessment: Your grade will be based on the final exam, which will consist of two or three essay questions. This grade may be enhanced by up to 5% by class participation and/or email comments. The exam will be in-class and will be “open book.”  

You may use your laptop to write the exam, but will not be allowed to access your hard drive, the Internet or any electronic devices. Therefore, if you want to use notes or outlines that you have created on your laptop, you must print them out before the exam.  

Exam Feedback: There shall be available to any interested student a copy of either the best examination paper covering the entire exam, a combination of “best” answers from a number of exams, or a feedback memorandum prepared by me. If the best exam is made available, it may be accompanied by a brief memorandum noting major issues not addressed and any significant errors. Last year I chose to provide a feedback memorandum that addressed the major and minor issues involved in the fact pattern.  

Students’ examination papers will be returned to the Office of the Registrar and may be picked up there. The exam questions and a copy of the best paper will be on file in the Library. These materials may be copied at the students’ expense.  

To the extent feasible, a student who so requests shall have the opportunity for an individual conference with me concerning the examination. In any event, this opportunity shall be afforded to any student with a grade of “D” or “F”.  

Requests for the return of papers or conferences are to be made within 30 days after grades are made available or within 30 days of the following semester, whichever is later.  

Events and Organizations: I encourage you to get involved with intellectual property organizations while you are eligible for the very low discounted student dues, e.g., the ABA Intellectual Property Law Section, the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA), and the Copyright Society of the USA .  

Resources: The course textbook and the statutory/case supplement are all that you are required to read to do well in the course. I’ve chosen this textbook because it condenses an assortment of cases into readable portions. Occasionally, you may want to read more of a case than the casebook provides in order to better understand a particular concept. That’s your option and the citations are provided in the casebook. In addition, if you are struggling with any concepts and desire additional written guidance, there are three major treatises on U.S. copyright law:

bulletNimmer on Copyright, Melville and David Nimmer (10 Volumes);
bulletPatry on Copyright, William Patry (7 Volumes);
bulletCopyright, Paul Goldstein (4 Volumes).

Some students have also found a book entitled Understanding Copyright Law, by Marshall Leaffer, helpful. It’s perhaps the best condensation of copyright law that I am aware of, but keep in mind that black-letter law only gets you so far in copyright. The key to copyright is the nuanced application of concepts to constantly changing factual situations.


Tentative  Schedule of class dates and assignments  

Class 1








Class 2






Class 3








 Class 4









Class 5








 Class 6





 Class 7





Class 8






 Class 9









Class 10









Class 11





 Class 12




Class 13






Wed., Sept. 3








Wed., Sept. 10






Wed., Sept. 17








Wed., Sept. 24









Wed., Oct. 1








 Wed., Oct. 8





 Wed., Oct. 15





Wed., Oct. 22






Wed., Oct. 29









Wed., Nov. 5









Wed., Nov. 12





Wed., Nov. 19




Wed., Dec. 3       

Introduction to the Class;

Historical Development of Copyright;

Justifications for Copyright;

Overview of U.S. copyright law and

Major Themes of the Course.

bulletText pp. 3-33 (background information)



Authorship: Fixation, Originality, Authorship and the Idea/Expression Dichotomy’s Limit on Copyrightable Subject Matter.

bulletText pp. 45-90
bullet17 U.S.C. §102 (a) and (b), §101 (“fixed”, “created”,  “copies”, “phonorecords” and “transmit”), and §106.


Derivative works and Compilations;

Who is an Author? Individual Authorship, Joint Authorship, Works Made For Hire, and U.S. Government Works.

bulletText pp. 90-138
bullet17 U.S.C. §103, §101 (“derivative work”, “collective work”, “compilation”, “copyright owner”, “joint work” and “work made for hire”), §201,  and §202.



Formalities: Publication, Notice, Deposit and Registration; Duration; Renewals, Termination of Transfers.

bulletText pp. 139-182, and note on Orphan Works, supplement at p. 355.
bullet17 U.S.C. §101 (“publication”)
bullet17 U.S.C. §§ 401, 402, 403, 404, 405, 406 (Notice);
bullet17 U.S.C. §§ 407 and 408 (Deposit)
bullet 17 U.S.C. §§ 408, 409, 410, 411, and 412 (Registration)
bullet17 U.S.C. §§ 302, 303, 304, 305, and 203.



Transfers of copyright; and

Protected Works and Boundary Problems: Useful Articles and Pictorial, Graphic and Sculptural Works

bulletText pp. 183-235
bullet17 U.S.C. §§ 204, 205, 201(d), 101 (“copyright owner” and “transfer of copyright ownership”).
bullet17 U.S.C. § 106 (bundle of rights), §101 (“useful article” and “pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works”), and §113(a), (b), and (c).



Computer Software, Facts and Compilations

bulletText pp. 235-265 and 292-304.
bullet17 U.S.C. § 101 (“computer programs”, “literary works” and “compilations”), § 102(b) and § 117.



The Statutory Rights of Copyright Owners, and

The Elements of Copyright Infringement: The Reproduction Right

bulletText pp. 313-359.
bullet17 U.S.C. § 106 and §501.


The Exact Copy;

The Distribution Right: (The First Sale Doctrine and Unauthorized Importation);

The Right to Prepare Derivative Works

bulletText pp. 359-407.
bullet17 U.S.C. § 106, §109, §601, §101 (“derivative works”)


The Public Performance and the Public Display Rights and the Limitations on those Rights;

Copyright and the Music Industry

bulletText pp. 426-472
bullet17 U.S.C. § 106, §110, §114(a) and (b), §115 (a) and (b), §1008, and §101 (“publicly” and “sound recordings”).




The Different Faces of Infringement:

Direct Liability;

Secondary Liability: Vicarious and Contributory;

The Liability of Device Manufacturers;

Limitation of Liability for Online Service Providers; 

bulletText pp. 473-523
bullet17 U.S.C. § 501, § 506, and § 512.




Fair Use.

bulletText pp. 525-575
bullet17 U.S.C. § 107



 Fair Use continued, and Civil Remedies

bulletText pp. 576-602 and 771-798
bullet17 U.S.C. § 107 and §§ 502, 503, 504 and 505.



Technological Protections and the DMCA

The Digital Horizon and the Future of Copyright

bulletText pp. 603-644
bullet17 U.S.C. § 1201, §1202(a)-(c) and §1203.



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