Professor Grimmelmann

New York Law School

Spring 2008

First Assignment

For our first class, please do the readings listed below on the schedule for January 15.

About the Course


This is a comprehensive course in copyright law, with a special technological focus. At least since the printing press, the history of copyright law has been the history of its interactions with new media technologies. Repeatedly, copyright has had to adjust itself to take advantage of disruptive new technologies–or to cripple them to fit its mold. By looking at old examples such as photography and the player piano, we’ll try to gain insight into the challenges copyright faces as it deals with new digital technologies. Along the way, we’ll study in detail the major doctrines of copyright and how they fit together.


To enroll in this course, you must either have taken Intellectual Property (CIP155) already or have my permission. This course moves more quickly because I can assume that everyone in it already knows the general policies underlying intellectual property protections, the basic framework of copyright doctrine, and some of the central cases in the copyright canon.

I’ll grant permission to skip the prerequisite if you demonstrate mastery of these fundamentals or otherwise convince me that taking this class would be appropriate at this point in your legal education. I may be more willing to grant permission if you are enrolled in Intellectual Property simultaneously. If you aren’t certain whether you should take Copyright this semester, please come and talk to me and I can give you advice tailored to your situation.

Class Meetings

We meet Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:30-3:45 in room A700.

Here’s what I expect from you in class:


You will need:

The casebok is unusually well-edited. We’ll read almost all of it, mostly in order. You should pay special attention to the excellent notes and questions following the principal cases. They often discuss issues I’ll raise in class (hint hint).

It is utterly essential that you have a copy of the statutory supplement, to which we will make frequent and detailed reference. Copyright is a statutory subject, and many questions can only be answered through a careful reading of the statutory text.


There will be a 24-hour take-home self-scheduled final exam. The exam will be open book and subject to a strict word limit. You should not need to spend more than six hours on it. The 24-hour period is designed to allow you to take the exam under comfortable conditions and with no unnecessary stress. You are responsible for anything in the readings or discussed in class, with the emphasis on what has been discussed in class.

I may adjust your grade by one third up or down for class participation. I consider good class participation to be anything that helps your classmates learn. NYLS has a blind-grading policy: I won’t know who wrote which exam until after I submit your grades.

Course Web Page

This syllabus is at As the semester progresses, I’ll post updates to it here.


Office: Room 706D, 40 Worth St.
Phone: (212) 431-2864
Email: jgrimmelmann (at nyls)

Please put “Copyright course” somewhere in the subject line of any course-related email to me so that I can give it proper attention quickly.


January 15: Introduction, Theory, and History

Part I: Copyrightability (7 classes)

January 17: Fixation; Originality

January 22: No class (legislative Monday)

January 24: The Idea/Expression Dichotomy

January 29: Derivative Works

January 31: Databases

February 5: Subject Matter; Useful Articles

February 7: Compilations; Architecture; Characters

February 12: Computer Software

February 14: Authorship

February 19: Formalities, Duration

February 21: Transfers

February 26: The Elements of Infringement

February 28: The Reproduction Right

March 4: The Distribution Right; The Public Display and Performance Rights

March 6: The Derivative Right

March 11: Moral Rights

March 13: The Music Industry

Class will not meet today. Please listen to this audio version of the day’s lecture instead.

March 25: Direct, Vicarious, and Contributory Infringement

March 27: Online Intermediaries, Criminal Infringement

Part IV: Fair Use (3 classes)

April 1: Parody and Commentary

April 3: Technical Interchange

April 8: Market Failure and New Uses

April 10: DRM and the DMCA

April 15: The Limits of the DMCA

April 17: Preemption

April 22: Contract, Misuse

Part VI: Procedure (2 classes)

April 24: The Copyright Lawsuit

April 29: Remedies

Final Exam