Copyright assignments (Fall 2015)


The first month’s assignments are posted below. Projects will begin in September after we have learned enough copyright basics to do projects.

Statutory materials (1909 & 1976 Acts, other materials)

Statutory references to the 1976 and 1909 acts are highlighted in the Joyce casebook. Read all statutes cited in the casebook. They can be found in the statutory supplement.


We will do a number of experiential projects, which together will constitute the bulk (75%) of your score. Examples include:

Class participation and Harkness discussion

Class participation is the other component (25%) of your class score. In addition to attendance and punctuality, participation looks to your participation in group discussion and performance as a discussion leader using the Harkness method of discussion, an approach that places students at the forefront of learning as discussion leaders, and which will help to foster the knowledge and skills underlying copyright law and copyright practice. As a practical matter, this means that learning will often be directed by you, and I will speak up only as needed. For information on Harkness, see the syllabus.

Week 1 (Aug. 17 & 19): 

Aug. 17: Introduction to copyright

  • Today will be primarily lecture/introduction of copyright concepts, explanation of the experiential approach to teaching copyright law, and introduction to the Harkness method of student-led discussion.
  • Read pp. 1-28, 52-64
  • Skim pp. 28-52
  • Supplemental resource (shown in class): Comparison of copyright, trademark, and patent

Aug. 19: Copyright prerequisites (fixation & originality)

  • Starting with today’s class, students will lead Harkness discussion of the materials. I will jump in and out of the discussion as needed to help guide, to keep things moving along, and to course-correct.
  • Read pp. 65-99

Week 2 (Aug. 24 & 26):

Aug. 24: Copyright prerequisites (originality)

  • Read pp. 99-126
  • Read Supplement p. 555 (re fixation, updating CB p. 81)
  • Read Supplement p. 555-56 (re authors and writings, updating CB pp. 96, 99, 104)

Aug. 26: Copyright prerequisites (originality, other considerations, works of authorship)

  • Read pp. 126-133, 139-61
  • Skim pp. 134-138
  • Read Supplement p. 556-57 (re merger and literary works, updating CB pp. 132, 152, 153)

Week 3 (Aug. 31 & Sep. 2): 

Aug. 31 (works of authorship):

Sept. 2 (works of authorship, ownership and transfers):

  • Read 220-257
  • Skim 257-259

Week 4 (No class Sept. 7; class Sept. 9): 

Sept. 7: Labor Day

  • No class

Sept. 9: Initial Ownership

  • Read pp. 261-96 (ownership and transfers)
  • Read Supplement p. 561 (re WMFH and joint works, updating CB pp. 275, 293)

Week 5 (Sept. 14 & 16): 

Sept. 14: Transfer of ownership, recordation, orphan works

  • Read pp. 296-99 regarding Tasini rights.
  • Read 299-315, 318-22 regarding transfers and orphan works.
  • Skim pp. 315-18 regarding recordation. I will lecture on this briefly but I do expect that you have looked through the material.

Sept. 16: Duration, renewal, restored copyrights

  • Read pp. 323-44 regarding duration. Note the table on p. 339, which may be helpful.
  • Added 9/12: for a long time, I’ve been working on a study guide for computing copyright duration. You can find the beta here.
  • Added 9/13: be sure to read the supplement pp. 561-63 (supplementing part 4.02 of the casebook)
  • Skim pp. 344-60 re renewal. I will lecture on this briefly as well on the Golan case that follows. (Same instructions as 9/14 re skimming.)

Week 6 (Sept. 21 & 23): 

Sep. 21: Copyright registration; the law of registration

  • Project materials: Last Wednesday, I passed out materials from the Shakespeare book we will use for Project 1. I will also send you a PDF copy of the materials. If you do not receive it, contact me immediately.
  • Readings: So that we can sink our teeth into Project 1, we’ll jump ahead a bit in the readings.
  • Written assignment due Monday:
    • This written assignment for today was announced in last Wednesday’s class.
    • As associates, it is your job to do the legal research. As noted in class on Wednesday 9/16, you therefore need to prepare a listing of copyright registration resources (such as statutes, regulations, circulars and other materials) relevant to copyright registration of the Shakespeare book.
      • Put together a 1-2 page printed listing of resources.
      • Look for resources in your statute book, which is a required book.
      • Look for resources on the Copyright Office website.
    • Bring to Monday’s class your printed listing of resources:
      • Two copies. Bring two copies, one for you, one for me. It is due the beginning of today’s class.
      • Content. The listing must include: 1) your name; 2) the title or a short description of each resource; 3) the URL or citation.
      • No data dumps. Be thorough but also be thoughtful and reasonable in your selection of resources. A “data dump” is of no use to us. I want useful resources.
      • This counts. This will be part of your score for Project 1, so do a good job. Also be prepared to discuss how the resources might be helpful.
      • Email alternative. If you are not able to come to class, then email me your listing ( before class. If you email it to me, make sure I send you a confirmation email. I will not accept any listings sent to me via email once class begins so if you are not going to be in class on Monday, send it prior to 2PM Monday.

Sep. 23: Termination of transfers; factual investigation

  • Class discussion assignment: investigate the copyright claimant.  
    • Documentation. Start putting together documentation of your investigation and research. This will become part of your project file and you will have to hand it in later. By investigation and research, I do not just mean legal research. I also mean the factual due diligence you will need in order to properly fill out the registration form.
    • Guidance. To help you consider what information you might need to fill out the registration form, review the Copyright site and the paper copyright registration forms at You should also review materials from our discussion on Monday.
    • Prepare questions. What information are you lacking? Make a list of factual questions to ask the senior partner regarding the facts you need to complete this project. The senior partner will be in class today and he will, to the best of his ability, answer your factual questions. You do not have to hand in your questions but you must prepare and ask questions of him.
  • Readings:
    • Read CB pp. 370-98
    • Read Supplement pp. 565-66

Week 7 (Sept. 28 & 30): 

Sep. 28: Publication and formalities

  • Project 1:
    • Use this opportunity. Like last Monday, today’s reading is shorter than usual in order to give you an opportunity to get ahead on project 1. Take advantage of it and spend time this weekend working on project 1.
    • Review info from due diligence. Last Wednesday, you met with the Managing Partner. Information obtained from that session (and additional information obtained from the client) has been posted to the firm Intranet (password required) as of 1:59PM Friday, 9/25. Be sure to review that information carefully.
    • Form. By today you should have selected the paper copyright registration form you want to use and you should have started filling it out. If you have any additional requests from the managing partner for information, you should ask your questions today.
    • Factual info. As noted in the project 1 assignment and in last week’s assignment, you have to do factual investigation. Do not expect the managing partner to volunteer information. You need to go online and do factual research yourself to help you fill out the form. If you find any factual information regarding the registration assignment that we should share with the group, please email it ASAP so that he can post it to the website.
    • Legal resources. A listing of legal resources based on your recommendations was posted Friday appx. 2:50PM as well, containing useful items you gathered and shared this week. Thank you!!
  • Readings: 
    • Read CB pp. 399-415, 420-27 (including table on p. 420)
    • Note: reference on CB p. 402, top of page, to section 304 of 1976 Act is in error; it should refer to section 301

Sep. 30: Exclusive rights (introduction; reproduction)

  • Readings
    • CB pp. 453-74, 478-90
    • Supp. p. 569

Week 8 (Oct. 5 & 7): 

Oct. 5: Exclusive rights (adaptation; public distribution)

  • Readings: 
    • CB pp. 490-525
    • Supp. p. 570-71

Oct. 7: No new assignment

  • Readings
    • On Oct. 5, we engaged in a long and fruitful discussion of Project 1 and the Cablevision case. No new readings for today; instead, please be prepared to discuss the materials previously assigned for Mon., Oct. 5 (see above). Treat the lack of a new reading for today as bonus time to complete Project 1.

Oct. 9: Project 1 due

  • Project 1 is due at 12 noon EST.
  • Paper submissions only.
  • Your case file should include all components of the project and be well-organized.
  • Hand it in to Mariela or Karla in the faculty secretary suite.
  • See project 1 assignment page for details.

Week 9 (Oct. 12 & 14): 

Oct. 12: Exclusive rights (public performance)

  • Readings
    • CB pp. 526-28, 532-39, 547-48
    • Read the article “Aereo‘s Errors” (free download), Consider the Aereo issue as not just an issue of copyright law, but also about statutory drafting, statutory interpretation, and judicial decision-making in the copyright context.
    • Skim CB pp. 539-46

Oct. 14: Exclusive rights (public display); Moral rights

  • Readings: 
    • CB pp. 562-73, 580-605

Week 10 (Oct. 19 & 21): 

Oct. 19: Infringement, professionalism

Oct. 21: Infringment, factual investigation, enforcement

Due dates for Projects 2 and 3

The initial details on Projects 2 and 3 were discussed in class on Oct. 14. Written details will be posted online this weekend. I’ll also post tentative assignments for the rest of the semester so that you may plan ahead.

The deadlines we agreed on as a group for Projects 2 and 3 are:

  • Project 2 (copyright enforcement): Nov. 9, 4PM EST (at beginning of class)
  • Project 3 (copyright litigation): Nov. 23, 4PM EST (not 5PM, but 4PM, beginning of class)

All projects must be done in paper form.

Tentative remaining assignments 

Posted Oct. 19: Over the next several days, I will be finalizing the remaining assignments. The tentative casebook readings are noted below. These assignments will be revised to include recent cases that are not in the casebook as well as activities related to projects 2 and 3, such as finding examples of copyright complaints to use as models.

Week 11 (Oct. 26 & 28): 

Oct. 26: Secondary liability

  • Project 2: Bring to class at least one example of both: 1) a cease-and-desist letter and 2) a DMCA takedown notice. Search the internet, see what you find.
  • Note: you may find forms online for submitting a copyright claim to one or more of Professor Nathenson’s online service providers. For obvious reasons, you may not submit any actual forms (online or otherwise) to YouTube or any other internet provider. 
  • Readings
    • Read CB pp. 733-51, 755-67
    • Skim CB pp. 751-55
    • Read Supp. p. 619

Oct. 28: Internet service providers

  • Projects
    • Determine the names of any internet or online service providers (OSP/ISPs) that provide services to the defendant. To help, go to the websites. Additionally, to determine the hosting provider for the defendant’s personal website, you may want to do a WHOIS search on GoDaddy and use the investigative tools at
    • On the OSP/ISP websites, find copyright or DMCA policies and contact information.
    • Obtain DMCA agent information on the OSP/ISPs, if available, on the “Directory of Agents” for DMCA notices.
    • Note: you may find forms online for submitting a copyright claim to one or more of Professor Nathenson’s online service providers. For obvious reasons, you may not submit any actual forms (online or otherwise) to YouTube or any other internet provider. 
  • Readings

Week 12 (Nov. 2 & 4): 

Nov. 2: Internet service providers (cont’d)

Nov. 4: Fair use and affirmative defenses

  • Notice (added Nov. 1): Remember the visual I used in class recently on copyright infringement analysis? It is now posted to the website here. Not assigned but want you to know that it’s online. It may be helpful for Projects 2 and 3, and you all requested that I add it to the website.
  • Readings
    • Read CB 809-35
    • Read Supp. p. 625

Week 13 (Nov. 9 & 11): 

Nov. 9: Project 2 due 4PM EST

  • Deadline revised from 11/6 to 11/9.
  • Project 2 is due at 4PM EST, at beginning of class.
  • Paper submissions only.
  • Your case file should include all components of the project and be well-organized.
  • Hand it in to Mariela or Karla in the faculty secretary suite.
  • Make sure to keep an extra set of copies of all the project 2 documents, because you will need many of them for project 3.
  • See project 2 assignment page for details.

Nov. 9: Fair use and affirmative defenses

  • Do not miss today’s class. It is crucial for Project 3.
  • Readings
    • Read CB pp. 835-64
    • Read Supp. pp. 625-27

Nov. 11: Fair use and affirmative defenses

  • Readings
    • Read CB pp. 864-71, 877-91, 897-903
    • Skim CB pp. 872-77, 891-97
    • Read Supp. pp. 638-40

Week 14 (Nov. 16 & 18): 

Nov. 16: Litigation

  • Bring to class at least one example of a civil complaint alleging copyright infringement.
  • Review copyright litigation procedural resources (see here). Consider issues regarding who you want to sue, where the suit should be filed, and what claims to assert. Along those lines, consider issues arising under the law of pleading (such as FRCP 8 and the Iqbal/Twombly line of cases, personal jurisdiction, subject matter jurisdiction, and venue)
  • Readings
    • Nov. 13: I’m reducing this assignment some. Read the casebook pages listed below: you’ll need them for Project 3, but we will not expressly discuss the assigned pages in class. Instead, we will discuss your chosen complaints and I will take any questions you have regarding the procedural issues attendant to the drafting of your complaints.
    • Read CB pp. 607-21, 631-35
    • Skim CB 621-31

Nov. 18: Remedies

  • Readings
    • Nov. 13: Readings again relaxed from earlier-posted assignment. We will not discuss the cases but you do need to be familiar with the statutes in particular for your complaint. We will instead spend today discussing Project 3. Come to class ready to discuss: 1) any questions you have regarding remedies; and 2) any other questions you might have.
    • Skim CB 905-47
    • Skim Supp. pp. 643-47

Week 15 (Nov. 23): 

Nov. 23: Project 3 is due 4PM (beginning of class)

  • No reading.
  • Bring your projects to class. You are done.
  • Let’s decompress, discuss what we did, and reflect.

Revised Nov. 13, 2015