Copyright Law and Digital Works

Peter W. Martin
Legal Information Institute (Cornell Law School)

[This site holds the material for this Internet course as it was conducted in the last year of its three year run. For a RealVideo overview of the course, presented at the Chicago-Kent Distance Learning Conference, Summer 1999, click here.]

Background Material: Scope | Nature of Work & Discussion | Background Reading

Syllabus and Assignments: Course Outline | Current Assignment

Administrative Details: Schedule | Q & A | Contact Information

Course Webboard Conference Area: Click Here to Login (Class Members Only)

I. Course Scope

The application of copyright law's basic elements or concepts -- coverage, protected rights, infringement and fair use -- along with associated remedies issues -- to creative works encoded in digital form. The course will explore the major copyright issues posed by such categories of digital works as:

The course will consider important legal alternatives to copyright protection, notably contractual or licensing terms. In addition the course will review the "White Paper" on "Intellectual Property and the National Information Infrastructure" and subsequent legislative proposals and international initiatives focusing on the Internet's implications for both domestic and international copyright regimes.

II. Meetings, Written Work, Exam and Similar Details

During each week of the course there will be assigned readings, the equivalent of one class meeting conducted via written exchange on the Internet using a Web-based course conference area and individual completion of interactive problems, one class meeting consisting of a local discussion at each school among the participants in the class, and one video conference session of the entire class. Students will also complete two short written projects extending the readings and class discussion on particular topics.

There will be a final exam (open-book). [Exam given in 1997]

The course conference area is only open to individuals registered for the course. Members of the class will receive instructions on how to login from me by e-mail when the course gets underway in September.

III. Schedule

The final schedule will be set to fit the academic calendars of all participating law schools. It will include meetings during 14 weeks. The video conference session those weeks will take place on Tuesdays at: 11 a.m. Eastern Time, 10 a.m. Central Time, 9 a.m. Mountain Time.

The course will start the week of August 31 (with its first video conference session, Tuesday, Sept. 8) and end with a final exam in early March (prior to the earliest semester break among the participating schools). (Tentative schedule of meetings)

IV. Background Reading

An evolving collection of background materials and useful Internet resources bearing on the subject matter of the course is available at this site. (Click here to access.)

The course will proceed with the understanding that all students in it have a basic command of copyright law.  Students who have not taken a copyright course should complete the following materials before the beginning of the fall term.  (And all others are welcome to use them for review.)

These materials are available from this site in several different formats:

A Hypertext Version (including links to the Act and Supreme Court decisions that the print versions assume users will have access to on their own):

Folio Views (VIP for Windows) with Necessary Software

click here to download:
VIP software in single 2.8 M ZIP file or in two disk set (disk 1-file 1/file 2 and disk 2) with documentation I and II
White Paper excerpts
Martin outline with Circular No.1
Copyright Act | Berne Convention | Key Copyright Cases

Wordprocessing Files:

Word for Windows 6.0
White Paper excerpts
Martin outline with Circular No.1
WordPerfect 5.1
White Paper excerpts
Martin outline with Circular No.1

V. Contact Information

I can be reached with questions about any of the above, throughout the summer, at: martin@lii.law.cornell.edu

Peter W. Martin