The CopyrightX Experience: A Student Perspective 2021

This blog post was written by Sam Dillon, LLM Candidate in Intellectual Property & the Digital Economy at the University of Glasgow

Since 2017, a selection of students undertaking the LLM in Intellectual Property and the Digital Economy at the University of Glasgow has been offered the invaluable opportunity to participate in the CopyrightX: CREATe course, organised by the University of Glasgow School of Law and CREATe in collaboration with Harvard Law School. The course follows a curriculum developed by renowned intellectual property scholar Professor William Fisher which seeks to guide participants on a thorough exploration of the many facets of US copyright law, encompassing its underlying justificatory theories, its interaction with industry and the arts, and the areas possibly in need of reform.

This ten-week affiliate course is administered by means of a combination of pre-recorded lectures prepared by Professor Fisher and prescribed readings followed by weekly seminars in which students are able to engage in detailed discussion of each week’s topics and exchange their opinions and observations. In spite of the challenging circumstances imposed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which led to a wholly online course this year, participants were nonetheless able to participate effectively through ten weekly Zoom-hosted seminars. These seminars were led by PhD Candidate and RTA Amy Thomas, Doctor Ula Furgal, and Professor Thomas Margoni from the Faculty of Law at KU Leuven, all of whom provided immensely useful explanations of the most complex legal concepts covered and encouraged analysis amongst students of the parallels to be drawn between the US system of copyright as taught by Professor Fisher and the EU framework. Further incentivising this comparative dimension within our discussions was the truly international student cohort of this year’s course. As a result, reference was often made during these discussions of topical US copyright law issues to various aspects of the legal systems of the UK, Brazil, Germany, Italy, and India, amongst others. This provided an exceptionally useful opportunity for the sharing of perspectives from around the globe which complemented our comparative analysis of copyright law in conjunction with the primary US element of the course.

In order to consolidate the learning undertaken throughout these ten seminars and to confer an understanding of the US copyright system in practice, the course culminated in group presentations on the topic of different aspects of the ongoing copyright dispute involving the famous Phillie Phanatic mascot. Four presentations were given pertaining to the issues of termination, the protection of fictional characters, derivative works and authorship. The opportunity to contextualise and interpret the many copyright doctrines, rules and theories taught throughout the course represented an immeasurably stimulating activity for all students involved. CopyrightX: CREATe has therefore constituted an incredibly rewarding and enjoyable experience for all involved this year, especially given degree to which it allowed its participants to work and learn collaboratively despite the limitations imposed by online learning. As such, this course can be said to be essential for those students who wish to optimise their understanding of copyright and build upon the learning undertaken during the LLM programme.

On behalf of myself and my fellow students, I would like to thank Amy, Ula and Thomas for their efforts and assistance during this year’s CopyrightX: CREATe course.