Harvard Law School, the HarvardX distance-learning initiative, and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society recently announced that they are now accepting applications for the online version of their 2016 CopyrightX course. CopyrightX, which was offered for the first time in 2013, is a 12-week course which uses a combination of pre-recorded lectures, assigned readings, weekly seminars, live webcasts, and online discussions to provide the most thorough introduction to copyright law you can get without enrolling in law school. Participation is free and open to lawyers and non-lawyers alike, as well as international students, but enrollment is limited.
As a CopyrightX alumnus, I cannot recommend it more strongly to anyone interested in learning more about copyright, regardless of their background. As Professor Terry Fisher explains in his introductory lecture, the course endeavors to provide students with a thorough understanding of the basic principles of copyright law, an appreciation for copyright’s impact on artistic and technical innovation, an introduction to the main theories of copyright, and the ability and confidence to make informed judgements about where the copyright system is going and how it could be improved.
I found the portions of the course devoted to copyright theory to be especially useful: if you want to make an argument about what kinds of activities should or should not be permitted by copyright law, which is (for instance) a major part of any fair use defense, you need to be able to speak to the law’s intent. On a more practical level, CopyrightX taught me how to make legal arguments and read court decisions, which has enabled me to decide for myself what things like the outcome in the “’Blurred Lines’ case” and even rulings in non-copyright cases like Obergefell v. Hodges mean instead of relying on the popular media and legal experts to tell me what to think.
The open application process began on October 19 and will end on December 15. More information can be found on this blog post, or you can go directly to the online application here. Additionally, I welcome any CCUMC members who have questions about the application process or the course itself to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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