Welcome to Intellectual Property and Copyright in the Electronic Age!
In today's electronic environment, intellectual property and copyright can be confusing and difficult to understand. Laws are in flux and constantly changing or being re-interpreted by the courts. Often it appears that technology makes copyright laws superfluous and artificial. Corporations attempting to protect their intellectual property and profit from it may appear greedy. IP and copyright are inevitably linked to social and cultural perceptions about the ownership and sharing of information and about changing perspectives about the economic value of information. In the context of this course I am using the word information very broadly to include text (print and electronic), audio, video, images, etc.
This course will explore intellectual property and copyright, their history and origin, the laws created to protect them, and their impact. The texts I've selected for the course have a very distinct point of view. Some of you may agree with the authors, others of you may disagree. In addition, as a class, you come to the course with different understandings and opinions about IP and copyright. While that experience and knowledge should be used to contribute to class discussions and your group work, I also urge you to keep an open mind about the issues and to think critically about what you read and how it applies to information.
Although current trends and issues in copyright may be the most interesting topic to some of you, it is my belief that you cannot have a real or solid understanding of the issues without first having a complete understanding of the history of copyright and how it works in a traditional print world. Current laws have evolved directly out of print copyright law and attempt to apply the principles of IP and copyright to electronic information. Without understanding those principles, perceptions of and interpretation of newer laws will be flawed and potentially misleading.
The course has been divided into 2 sections:
- Weeks 1-8 will be an in-depth study of the history and laws surrounding IP and copyright. In addition to the readings, I will provide a summary overview of the topic for the week. During these 8 weeks you will be expected to:
- Do a significant amount of reading on the background, principles, and laws
- Post to the discussion forum each week.
- Weeks 9-14 will be group work in which you will apply what you have learned during the first section of the course with additional research to solve a problem or case associated with IP or copyright. No formal reading will be assigned during these weeks but you will be expected to conduct research to provide evidence for solving your problem/case.
Page last modified: 18 July 2005