Communication // Information Science 4290
Copyright in a Digital Age

Fall 2009
Prof. Tarleton Gillespie

MW 2:55-4:10pm
Kennedy 213
office hours: Wed, 10-12 -- 315 Kennedy



We're in the midst of a contentious legal and cultural battle about copyright law and its role in a digital context. Decisions made now will not only influence the music and movie industries, consumers and fans, artists and filmmakers, they will also help define the Internet as a medium of communication. As these controversies are slowly being settled, recognition of the broader issues and concerns that they raise remains sporadic. In this class, we will look at recent legal battles in the context of the historical and ideological relationships between authorship, technology, commerce, law, and culture. We will uncover important issues for cultural participation in a digital world: who gets to speak, what they can say, who will hear, under what conditions communication can occur, and with what consequences. We will consider how the law acts as an arena for the collision of authorship and the market, technology and expression, individual and institution, culture, and power.



The most important assignment is to read all of the materials thoroughly; I expect everyone to participate fully in class discussions, and this can only work if you have given the readings your full attention.

To deepen our conversation, you will keep a personal blog on the topic. Every week you will need to add at least one substantial post, in response to the readings or to a specific question from me. Every week you will also need to read, comment on, and rate at least five posts from your classmates every week. You may also use your blog to recommend sites or news relevant to the course, or to try out ideas and expand the conversation as you see fit. However, those posts from your individual blogs rated highest by your classmates will aggregate to a single, public course blog, and I will be inviting some of the scholars you're reading to visit and comment on the course blog, so your posts must be thoughtful, insightful, and ready for public consumption by experts in the field.

A midterm paper, 6-8 pages in length responding to a specific question, will be due in week 6.

A final research paper, 15-20 pages, due during exam period, will deal witheither some conceptual aspect of these debates or some emerging controversy we didn't address -- the topic will be your choice, in consultation with me and with the class. You will be required to turn in a proposal, a rough draft, and then a final version.

class participation: 10%
blog participation: 20%
midterm paper: 30%
final research paper: 40%



The readings are all available online. Check the online syllabus for links and instructions.



Aug 31 -- Introduction: the class and its aims

Sept 2 -- Introduction: law, culture, and the market (and go over the blog assignment)

Shalini Venturelli, 2000. "From the Information Economy to the Creative Economy: Moving Culture to the Center of International Public Policy."


Sept 7 -- Copyright: what it is

Stanford University Libraries, Copyright and Fair Use, "Copyright FAQ" sections A-D only
Jessica Litman, 2001. "Copyright Basics," Ch 1 of Digital Copyright: Protecting Intellectual Property on the Internet.
Steve Imparl, "10 Essential Legal Points for Bloggers," April 28, 2008.
Sept 9 -- Copyright: edges

Stanford University Libraries, Copyright and Fair Use,
    "What Is Fair Use?"
    "Measuring Fair Use: The Four Factors"
    "Welcome to the Public Domain"
Sept 14 -- Copyright: history and justification

Carla Hesse, 2002. "The Rise of Intellectual Property, 700BC-AD 2000: An Idea in the Balance," Daedalus 130(2): pp.26-45.



Sept 16 -- Conceptual challenges: authorship, property, and the public domain

Howard Becker, 1982. "Art Worlds and Collective Activity" Ch 1 of Art Worlds. read pp 1-24, 34-39. available in Google Books
Jonathan Lethem, 2007. "The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism." Harper's, February, 59-71.

Sept 21 -- Conceptual challenges: the economics of information

Yochai Benkler, 2006. "Some Basic Economics of Information Production and Innovation," Ch 2 of The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom.
Sept 23 -- Digital challenges: duplication and distribution, economic

National Research Council. 2000. "The Emergence of the Digital Dilemma," Ch 1 of The Digital Dilemma: Intellectual Property in the Information Age. read 23-46.
John Perry Barlow, 1994. "The Economy of Ideas." Wired, 2.03
Patrick Ross, 2008. "Critiquing Copyright Canards," Copyright Alliance Blog -- parts 1 2 3 4 5
Chris Anderson, 2004. "The Long Tail." Wired, 12.10

Sept 28 -- Digital challenges: duplication and distribution, technical

Jonathan Sterne, 2006. "The MP3 as Cultural Artifact." New Media & Society 8.5: 825-842. Jonathan Zittrain, 2008. "Battle of the Networks," Ch 2 of The Future of the Internet, and How to Stop It: 19-35.
Sept 30 -- Digital challenges: technical protections

Lawrence Lessig, 2006. "What Things Regulate," Ch 7 of Code v2.0.
Dan Stockton, 2006. "What are architectures of control in design?"
    "architectures of control in the built environment"
    "architectures of controlin the digital environment"
    "simple control in products"
    "a diagrammatic representation"
Mark Stefik, 1997. "Trusted Systems," 276(3) Scientific American, 78-81. Get via CU library


Oct 5 -- CASE 1: file-sharing, Napster, and individual lawsuits

midterm paper due

Charles Mann, 2000. "The Heavenly Jukebox." Atlantic Monthly, September.
Jeff Howe, 2005. "The Shadow Internet." Wired, 13.1.
Oct 7 -- CASE 1: file-sharing, Napster, and individual lawsuits

Orin Kerr, 2007. "How to Read a Judicial Opinion: A Guide for New Law Students"
AA&M et. al. v. Napster, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, revised injunction, 2001
Cornell IT Policy: "Filesharing"
Metro-Goldwyn Mayer Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd., 2005[syllabus only]

Oct 12 -- fall break

Oct 14 -- CASE 1: file-sharing, Napster, and individual lawsuits

Nate Anderson, 2007. "Copyright lawyer tells universities to resist 'copyright bullies'" Ars Technica September 28.
Cornell IT Policy, 2007. "RIAA "Settlement Letters" and "Preservation Notices"" April 11.
Steve Jones, 2002. "Music That Moves: Popular Music, Distribution and Network Technologies." Cultural Studies 16.2: 213-232.


Oct 19 -- CASE 2: DRM, DMCA, Reimerdes

U.S. Code, Title 17, Chapter 12
U.S. Copyright Office, summary of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1998)
Mike Godwin, 2004. "What Every Citizen Should Know About DRM, a.k.a. 'Digital Rights Management'." Washington, D.C.: Public Knowledge.
Oct 21 -- CASE 2: DRM, DMCA, Reimerdes

Universal v. Reimerdes, 111 F. Supp. 2d 346 [S.D.N.Y. 2000] - Injunction, August 17, 2000
Pam Samuelson, 2003. "DRM {and, or, vs.} the Law." Communications of the ACM 46 (4): 41-45.


Oct 26 -- CASE 3: YouTube
Viacom complaint
Doug Lichtman, "The Case against YouTube" LA Times, March 20, 2007
US Code, Title 47, Chapter 5, Section 230: "Protection for private blocking and screening of offensive material"
US Code, Title 17, Chapter 5, Section 512: "Limitations on liability relating to material online"
Oct 28 -- CASE 3: YouTube

Principles for User-Generated Content Services -- Foster Innovation. Encourage Creativity. Thwart Infringement.
Lucas Hilderbrand, 2007. "YouTube: Where Cultural Memory and Copyright Converge," Film Quarterly 16(1): 48-57.
Nov 2
paper proposals due



Nov 4 -- CASE 4: Google Books

Complaint against Google Inc. Document filed by The Author's Guild (September 20, 2005)
Answer to Complaint. Document filed by Google Inc. (Nov 30, 2005)
Eric Schmidt, 2005. "Books of Revelation" The Wall Street Journal, October 18.
Stephen Bryant, 2005. "Google Print Will Set Dangerous Precedent, Says AAP President" (interview with AAP president Patricia Schroeder) eWeek, October 25.
Siva Vaidhyanathan, 2007. "The Googlization of Everything and the Future of Copyright." University of California Davis Law Review 40(3): 1207-1232.

Nov 9 -- CASE 4: Google Books
Google, 2008. "Authors, Publishers, and Google Reach Landmark Settlement." October 28.
Jonathan Band, 2008. "A Guide for the Perplexed: Libraries & the Google Library Project Settlement."
Robert Darnton, 2009. "Google & the Future of Books." The New York Review of Books 56(2).
Nov 11 -- The future?: free culture, remix, mashup, best practices -- Screening: "Rip: A Remix Manifesto"

Rebecca Tushnet, 2008. "User-Generated Discontent: Transformation in Practice," Columbia Journal of Law & Arts, 31.
Mark Schultz, 2007. "Copynorms: Copyright and Social Norms," in P. Yu, ed., Intellectual Property and Information Wealth: Issues and Practices in the Digital Age.


Nov 16 -- The future?: alternative business models
Chris Anderson, "Free: Why $0.00 is the Future of Business" Wired 16.3.
Yochai Benkler, 2004. "'Sharing Nicely': On Shareable Goods and the Emergence of Sharing as a Modality of Economic Production." Yale Law Journal 114.
Steve Jobs, 2007. "Thoughts on Music."
Nov 18 -- The future?: technical constraints persist

Julie Cohen, 2006. "Pervasively Distributed Copyright Enforcement." Georgetown Law Journal 95.
Jonathan Zittrain, 2008. "Tethered Appliances, Software as Service, and Perfect Enforcement," Ch 5 of The Future of the Internet, and How to Stop It.

Nov 23 -- The future?: revise copyright law
rough draft of paper due
Lawrence Lessig, 2004. "Afterword" in Free Culture. pp. 273-306.
Creative Commons,
Electronic Frontier Foundation, 2004. "A Better Way Forward: Voluntary Collective Licensing of Music File Sharing."
Nov 25 - Thanksgiving



Nov 30 -- Conclusion: communication in the context of technology

Graham Longford, 2005. "Pedagogies of Digital Citizenship and the Politics of Code." Techné: Journal of the Society for Philosophy and Technology 9(1): 68-96.

Dec 2 -- Conclusion: communication in the context of the market

Eva Hemmungs Wirtén. "Out of Sight and Out of Mind: On the Cultural Hegemony of Intellectual Property (Critique)." Cultural Studies 20.2 (2006): 282-291.
final paper due during exam week



From the Cornell "Code of Academic Integrity":

"Absolute integrity is expected of every Cornell student in all academic undertakings. Integrity entails a firm adherence to a set of values, and the values most essential to an academic community are grounded on the concept of honesty with respect to the intellectual efforts of oneself and others. Academic integrity is expected not only in formal coursework situations, but in all University relationships and interactions connected to the educational process, including the use of University resources. While both students and faculty of Cornell assume the responsibility of maintaining and furthering these values, this document is concerned specifically with the conduct of students.

A Cornell student's submission of work for academic credit indicates that the work is the student's own. All outside assistance should be acknowledged, and the student's academic position truthfully reported at all times. In addition, Cornell students have a right to expect academic integrity from each of their peers."

The full text of the Code of Academic Integrity can be found online at