Copyright Law

12 Part 2 – Discussion

Week 2: The Purpose of Copyright

There are two primary rationales for copyright law, though rationales do vary among legal traditions.

  • Utilitarian: Under this rationale, copyright is designed to provide an incentive to creators. The aim is to encourage the creation of new works.
  • Author’s rights: Under this rationale, copyright is primarily intended to ensure attribution for authors and preserve the integrity of creative works. The aim is to recognize and protect the deep connection authors have with their creative works.

While different legal systems identify more strongly with one or the other of these rationales or have other rationales particular to their legal traditions, many copyright systems are influenced by and draw from both. Do one or both of these justifications resonate with you? What other reasons do you feel support or don’t support the granting of exclusive rights to creators of original works? Why should creative works be protected? Share your thoughts.

Week 3: Copyright and Creativity

It has been said that creativity always builds on the past. This means that the things we create today are largely built from things others have created in the past. As an “old school” example, many of Disney’s most commercially successful movies are retellings of old stories in the public domain As a more modern example that relies on fair use rather than the public domain, Kutiman remixes unrelated videos from all over YouTube to create transformative new music:

Do you believe it is true that creativity always builds on the past? Is it important for the protections provided by copyright to eventually end? What is the relationship between the public domain, limitations on, and exceptions to copyright, and creativity and commerce? If the length of copyright protection is extended every time it is about to expire, preventing works (like Mickey Mouse) from entering the public domain, what will the effects on society be?

Week 4: Creative Commons and Copyright

In many ways, Creative Commons licenses feel like an alternative to copyright law. But the truth is that Creative Commons licenses only work because copyright law exists.

How would you explain the relationship between Creative Commons and copyright law to someone new to Creative Commons? What kinds of examples would you use?

Educators: Give an example of the common struggles educators face in accessing and/or using & sharing OER.


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Creative Commons by JR Dingwall is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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