In this course we will discuss one of the most powerful social, cultural, economic and political institutions of our day: intellectual property (IP). How did we arrive at the notion that creative works and ideas can be owned, bought and sold like tangible commodities? What impact does this concept have on the way we view the world? How does it help us achieve our social goals, and how does it present obstacles to reaching those goals? And, in the age of digitized information and networked communication, how can we understand the role of IP in light of the rapidly changing developments in the way culture is produced and consumed? In our efforts to better understand these issues, we will read both primary and secondary materials, covering subjects ranging from the birth of copyright to the latest developments in the global “copyfight” over information in the digital age, view relevant and interesting documentary films, and enjoy guest lectures from a variety of knowledgeable speakers.
Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
- Explain the origins and function of intellectual property law.
- Describe the role of copyright in regulating culture and commerce.
- Distinguish among different points of view and formulate complex arguments related to intellectual property law.
- Debate the strengths, weaknesses, and appropriate limits of intellectual property law.
- Create a written or multimedia argument that advocates for a given interpretation of use of intellectual property law, to achieve a given business or social result.