LAW5448 - Copyright X: US and international copyright law and theory - 2019

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Postgraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Chief examiner(s)

Trimester 1: George Raitt

Quota applies

Postgraduate programs are based on a model of small group teaching and therefore class sizes need to be restricted.

Unit guides


City (Melbourne)

  • Trimester 1 2019 (Online)


US and International Copyright Law and Theory is based on materials developed by William Fisher for CopyrightX at Harvard Law School. Online lectures are recorded by Professor Fisher, and weekly seminars are conducted at Monash. Students in this course will have an opportunity to participate in online discussions of copyright-related issues. Students who successfully complete the unit will also be eligible to receive a certificate of completion from Harvard. The unit explores US copyright law and the ongoing debates about how the law should be reformed. The unit will cover:

  1. theory - the arguments, drawn primarily from economics, political theory, and philosophy, concerning why and how the law should regulate uses of expressive materials;
  2. doctrine - the rules currently in force concerning uses of expressive materials and the ways in which those rules are typically interpreted and applied; and
  3. practice - how those rules affect various fields of art, industry, and culture, including literature, music, film, photography, journalism, software design, architecture, fashion, comedy and games.


Upon completion of this unit, students should:

  1. Investigate, analyse and synthesise complex information, problems, concepts and theories in relation to IP law from a comparative perspective. Students will gain insights and the capacity to critique the law and its underlying policies by drawing upon economics, political theory, and philosophy, concerning why and how the law should regulate uses of expressive materials.
  2. Students should be enabled to:
    1. critically evaluate the role of intellectual property in the US and internationally within a market economy including the manner in which key norms and values such as equity, efficiency and justice influence the policy debate; and
    2. critically assess the impact of key IP policy choices.
  3. Apply knowledge and understanding of recent developments in US and international policy with creativity and initiative to new situations in the practical administration of the law. Refine skills of policy analysis to interpret, synthesise and critically evaluate legislative provisions and case law from a broader policy perspective.
  4. Conduct research in IP policy based on knowledge of appropriate research principle and methods.
  5. Use cognitive, technical, creative and collaborative skills to generate and evaluate at an abstract level complex ideas and concepts relevant to US IP law and policy in both oral and written form.


  1. Take home exam 1: 50%
  2. Take home exam 2: 40%
  3. On-line class attendance and participation: 10%

    Both of the take-home exams will contain the same exam questions that are undertaken by the Harvard law students. The first take home exam deals with what could be described as 'black letter' law or doctrinal issues relating to US and international copyright. The second take home exam deals with the differing and inter-related rationales for copyright and the reasons how and why those rationales affect the past, current and future copyright laws. Those rationales including natural rights, personality rights, utilitarian perspectives and cultural theory.

Workload requirements

Students are required to watch and listen to lectures provided on-line by Professor Fisher. These lectures consist of 12 separate topics and the lectures relating to each topic are a little over 60 minutes per topic. In addition, there are related readings to be undertaken, as is the case with 'standard' face to face lectures.

The Monash component of the teaching will consist of consideration of relevant lecture topics, hypothetical problems or questions dealing with the unit content and opportunities for clarification and comment on the unit content. In order to be eligible for a certificate of completion of Copyright X from Harvard, students must meet minimum attendance and participation requirements.

At least 24 hours per teaching period (either intensive, semi-intensive or semester long, depending on the Faculty resources, timetabling and requirements).