6.912 | January IAP 2006 | Undergraduate

Introduction to Copyright Law


Students were assigned legal cases to review and read prior to the next class session. The readings then served as the impetus for the class discussions. Databases listed below such as LexisNexis® have restricted availability, and no access is provided through this site.

Readings by Session

1 Introduction; Basics of Legal Research; Legal Citations  
2 LexisNexis®; 1976 Copyright Act Here’s a LexisNexis® handout you may find helpful. (PDF)

Please read these cases to discuss in class:

- Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Telephone Service Co., 499 U.S. 340 (1991). (PDF)
- Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., 510 U.S. 569 (1994). (PDF)
- On Command Video Corp. v. Columbia Pictures Industries, 777 F. Supp. 787 (N.D. Cal. 1991). (PDF)
- Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc., 464 U.S. 417 (1984). (PDF)

(Remember, just type the middle part of the citation (e.g., “499 U.S. 340”) into the “Get a Case” citation field in Lexis-Nexis to call up the opinion.)

3 Copyright Applied to Music, Computers; Napster®; Peer-to-Peer File Sharing

Go to LexisNexis®, “Legal Research,” then “Federal Code,” and finally “Guided Search.” (That will take you to this form.)

Search for “17 uscs” in “Cite.” This will pull up the entire Copyright Act. Alternately, you can use the U. S. Copyright Office’s file: (PDF - 3 MB).

Read the following sections of the statute. (If the section seems to go on and on, just read the first few subsections. You may find it helpful to look back at the definitions in section 101.)

- 106 (Core Rights)
- 106A (Limited Moral Rights)
- 107 (Fair Use)
- 109 (First Sale)
- 110 (Exempt Performances)
- 115 Only Read Subsections (a) and (b) (Musical “Covers”)
- 117 (Computer Programs)
- 302 (Duration of Copyright)
- 401 (Copyright Notice)
- 411 (Registration)
- 504 (Damages for Infringement)
- 506 (Criminal Violations, including LaMacchia Law)

4 Software Licensing; DVDs and Encryption Read 17 U.S.C. § 512. (Remember: Use “17 uscs sec 512”.)

Read Recording Industry Ass’n of America v. Diamond Multimedia Systems, Inc., 180 F.3d 1072 (9th Cir. 1999).

Read Universal City Studios, Inc. v. Corley, 273 F.3d 429 (2d Cir. 2001). (PDF)

Read Chamberlain Group, Inc. v. Skylink Technologies, Inc., 381 F.3d 1178 (Fed. Cir. 2004). (PDF)

Read Jonathan Zittrain’s essay, “The Copyright Cage,” in legalaffairs magazine.

Optional Readings

Nimmer, David. Codifying Copyright Comprehensibly, 51 UCLA L. Rev. 1233 (2004) (From LexisNexis® Academic, go to “Legal Research,” then “Law Reviews,” then “Guided Search,” and search for “51 UCLA L. Rev. 1233” in “Citation.” Set the date field to “All available dates.”) This is a fantastic article about the entire Copyright Act.

———. Appreciating Legislative History: The Sweet and Sour Spots of the DMCA’s Commentary, 23 Cardozo L. Rev. 909 (2002).

———. “Fairest of them All” and Other Fairy Tales of Fair Use, 66 Law & Contemp. Probs. 263 (2003), available with chart.

Course Info

As Taught In
January IAP 2006
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Videos