Textbooks by Semester

LIBR 281-02
LIBR 281-11
Seminar in Contemporary Issues
Topic: Digital Copyright
Fall 2007 Schedule

Mary Minow
Phone: 408-366-0123
Fax: 408-366-0123
Office Hours: Anytime - online

Course Links
Blackboard Tutorials
SLIS eBookstore

Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8
Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12 | Week 13 | Week 14 | Week 15 | Week 16

Please note that the course calendar is "subject to change with fair notice"

August 23 - December 10, 2007

Final paper due December 5, 2007


Aug 23-29 Patents and Trademarks and Copyrights, Oh My!

This week we look at the BIG PICTURE. Copyright is only one mechanism to control intellectual property.

Objectives: To enable students to identify whether a particular work can be protected by patents, trademarks, copyright or trade secret.  Students will also be able ascertain the type and dollar amount of copyright penalties.  Students will be able to place copyright in a framework of new and emerging methods of content protection (also known as getting "PCLED")

You might start thinking about your final paper topics.  Look ahead to see what subjects we'll be discussing.

Assignment 1:  Big picture questions. Deadline: Aug 29. 8 points

Optional Assignment: Fill in the Intellectual Property Chart. This is a great way to learn the difference between the four major types of intellectual property.  Deadline: Aug. 29. 0 points


Browse: -  just get a sense of what this resource has to offer.  It's a great place to go if you receive a cease & desist letter, or better yet, look here before you get one.  View live c & d letters on the right side of the page – distinguish between c & d letters for copyright, trademark, domain name and other claims of infringement.

Optional: The chillingeffects FAQs on CopyrightTrademarks, Patents, and Trade Secrets are quite good.  You need not learn all this detail unless you're interested.  The goal of this week is for you to get a basic grasp of the differences between these four types of Intellectual Property (IP).  We'll get into depth on Copyright throughout the rest of the course.


Aug 30 -  Sept. 5  Is My Work Copyrighted? What Can Be Copyrighted and What Does Copyright Protect?

Many people both overestimate and underestimate the scope of copyright. Many think that copyright can protect their ideas... many think they need to file with the Copyright office to get protection. Both of these are misconceptions. This week we'll clear up exactly what can be copyrighted and the scope of that protection.

Objective: Learn the mechanics and scope of applying for copyright protection.

Assignment 2: Register a copyright with the Copyright Office for a work you created (any format - Web site, article, music, art, etc.) Go to, select and fill out the appropriate form.  Optional: Pay $45 and follow through with the application. Discuss your application process with the discussion list.  Deadline: Sept. 5   8 points



Sept. 06 – 12   Who Owns the Copyright? For HOOOOOW LONG??

Also known as the "Mickey Mouse" Act, the passage of the Copyright Term Extension Act in 1998 added twenty years to the term of copyright. How long are copyrights valid today? What does this mean for the public domain? What are "orphan works"? Who owns a wiki? Blog comments? YouTube videos?

Objective: Learn how to determine the ownership and length of copyright protection.

Assignment 3:  Determine the ownership and copyright status of items given in class. Are they still in copyright? How did you come to that conclusion?  Deadline Sept. 12 8 points



Sept. 13 – 19  Using LEXIS to Find Copyright Owners’ and Users’ Rights

LEXIS has the copyright code, court cases, and secondary legal sources. Learn how to search for copyright case law.  Is the case still good law?  How can we interpret the limits of copyright owners’ rights? What are users’ rights?

Objective: Learn how to use LEXIS well enough to find copyright law, cases, and secondary sources.  Identify copyright owners’ rights and begin to identify the exceptions to owners’ exclusive rights.

Assignment 4: Answer questions using LEXIS to find specific sections of the U.S. Copyright Code and copyright court cases.  Deadline: Sept. 19.  8 points




Section 108 is the basis of much of what we do in the library world - it sets forth the gospel on how and when we can make copies for digital preservation, replacement, interlibrary loan, as well as absolving us from patron copying, provided we comply with the terms of 108. This section should be at the bedside of every librarian.

Objective: Learn the specific exceptions written into law for libraries and archives that allow interlibrary loan, photocopier use, replacements for damaged materials etc.

Assignment 5:  Read Section 108 and answer questions.  Deadline: Sept. 26.  8 points



Sept 27 – Oct 3   IT GETS EVEN HOTTER: SECTION 108

Section 108 is undergoing review as we speak.  A study group has been appointed by the Library of Congress (which oversees the Copyright Office) to study library copyright issues.

Objective: Get up to date on the current status of Section 108 in the digital world.

No assignment – Deadline to give potential final paper topic October 3.  Final Paper due: December 5




Google book search, other massive digitization projects, your own personal copying - all depend on generous interpretations of fair use. What is fair use, and how is it determined?

Objective: Learn the process to evaluate whether or not a use is Fair Use.

Assignment 6: Answer these questions about Fair Use. Deadline: October 17. 8 points
Use the discussion board to describe a library copyright scenario that might qualify for Fair Use. Use a real one from your experience or make one up. Use the four nonexclusive factors in the checklist to analyze. Then argue before a jury of your peers that the use is fair (or is not). A sample will be given.



Oct 11 - 17 MORE FAIR USE

Now it’s time to turn into a juror and vote on your classmate’s fair use arguments.  Use the discussion board to vote as a juror on classmates’ fair use arguments.  Explain why you voted the way you did. 

Note: Assignment 6 deadline is October 17.

Reading and Viewing


Oct 18 – 24 TEACH Act and Education

Do educators and students get a free pass when it comes to using copyrighted works? Although there are exceptions for educational use, they are far from absolute. 

Objective: Learn the contours of 17 U.S.C. § 110(1) and (2) – the classroom and distance education exceptions. Gauge the legal status of various fair use guideline statements.

Assignment 7: Teach Act and educational use questions. Deadline: Oct 24.  8 points

Reading and Viewing


Oct 25 – 31  Layers upon layers – Audiovisual, DVDs, Collective Rights Organizations and Permissions

Now it’s time to look at getting permission. Sometimes free, often for a fee.  How do you find out where to get permission?  Who are the main players among the performance rights organizations and other copyright collecting societies?

Objective: Learn how to get permission or pay license fees in order to use text, music and other copyrighted material.

Assignment 8:  Use the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) to check pricing and availability of specific item(s).  Answer questions about permission and licensing of other materials.  Deadline: Oct. 31. 8 points


WEEK 11 

Nov 1 -7 License Terms Generally Trump Copyright Law … Creative CommonsAlternative

What does it mean when an item has a creative commons license? When might you put a creative commons license on an item you created? Can you change the terms of use?

Objective: Learn how to both use creative commons licensed materials and create your own creative commons licenses on material you own.

Assignment 9: Put a creative commons license on something you've created that is online. Make sure it has the creative commons "code" so that it will show up in user searches. For example, Firefox browsers have a creative commons plug-in that makes it easy and fun to search only for cc licensed content. Go to to create the license. Tell us what you’ve done on the discussion board. Deadline: Nov. 7.  8 points



Nov 8 - 14 Copyright Policies

Sad to say, academic copyright policies posted to the web are often confusing and sometimes even state the law incorrectly.  Now that you’ve come this far, take a look at two institutions’ copyright policies and comment on their usefulness.

Objective: Students should take a critical eye when reading information about copyright online, even when it comes to respectable institutions copyright policies. Identify good and weak points in academic institutions’ copyright policies.

Assignment 10:  Evaluation of copyright policies at academic institutions.          Deadline: Nov. 14.  8 points.



Nov 15 - 21  Digital Rights Management - It Could Make Copyright Quaint and Obsolete

Self-help has often supplanted copyright, especially in the digital arena.  Congress has backed technological protection measures with the force of law, making it criminal in some cases to circumvent the measures. 

Objective: Identify the law and regulations that pertain to digital rights management. Learn what the exceptions are, as well as the process to get new exceptions.




Nov 22 - 28   International Issues

Is there such a thing as international copyright law? In this age of global reach, what does it mean when someone from France copies and distributes your Flickr photo? What about someone from China?

Objective: Learn the legal status of international treaties. Determine which countries have signed treaties with the United States or with other countries.




Nov 29 – Dec 5  Keeping up with Legislation, Cases and Current Events

There’s no lack of current information about copyright. Unfortunately, much of it is suspect.  Where do you find trustworthy information on what's going on?

FINAL PAPER: Deadline: Dec. 5. 20 points

Objective: Students will be able to sift through blogs, RSS feeds and other current sources to try to get reliable copyright information.


Dec 6 – 10 Follow up time

These few extra days can be used to follow up on questions, issues.