A Legal Blog by Aaron | Sanders, PLLC


Rick’s Copyright Final Exam: The Final Part

Rick is an experienced Nashville intellectual-property litigator and an erstwhile part-time professor at Vanderbilt University Law School whose writing and teaching focuses on copyright issues but whose law practice involves a wide variety of IP-related disputes.

Part III, No. 2: Larry Gardner & the Missing 25% Copyright Ownership Interest

This really is the last part of my annotated final exam that I gave to my Vanderbilt Law copyright class last term. I decided to split the long essays into two parts because of: length issues. Feel free to start at the beginning, or return to the first long-essay topic, or even jump somewhere in between.

Anyway, here is my homage to/satire* of the Harry Potter novels, inspired partly by Rich Burlew’s Larry Gardener and the Angry Half-Orc. Only I’d never kill Harry off like that. I’ll defend books 1-3 to the end, no matter how badly mangled the Latin is, and I’ll defend the series as a whole to a lesser extent (except book 5—never book 5).

* Very post-modern, no? It’s a parody of Harry Potter, in which the parody is, in-topic, “straight,” and there’s also (1) an in-topic “parody” (well, is it really? You decide.) and (2) an in-topic “straight” rip-off of the “straight” original, which really a parody of the real original. Between you and me, I think I’d rather watch Georgina Henderson.

Lurking behind this fact pattern is the danger of uncontrolled co-owners…

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Rick’s Copyright Course Final Exam: Part 2.5 of 3

Rick is an experienced Nashville intellectual-property litigator and an erstwhile part-time professor at Vanderbilt University Law School whose writing and teaching focuses on copyright issues but whose law practice involves a wide variety of IP-related disputes.

Part III, No. 1: Tattoos, Video Games and the Quasi-Fallacy of “Innocent Infringement”

Thanks for reading so far. If you’re just joining the discussion, I’m posting the final exam I gave to my Vanderbilt Copyright Law class last term, with annotations about what I was looking for in the answers and some additional notes about how students answered. In the first part, I explained the perfectly good reasons why I made the exam to beastly to grade (and to take, I’m sure!), and set forth the annotated Part I of the exam (short answers). In the second part, I basically just set out the Part II, which consisted of short essays.

I was going to post Part III of the exam as one long post, but it’s really too much, since it consists of two long essay topics. The fact patterns are long, and there’s a lot to annotate. So I’m splitting the two long essay topics into two posts.

One of the main things I was testing with the long essays, in addition to analytical ability, was nerve. Copyright law is often counter-intuitive, and you have to trust what you know over what your gut is telling you.* In Essay No. 1,…

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Rick’s Copyright Course Final Exam: Part 2 of 3

Rick is an experienced Nashville intellectual-property litigator and an erstwhile part-time professor at Vanderbilt University Law School whose writing and teaching focuses on copyright issues but whose law practice involves a wide variety of IP-related disputes.

Part II: Short Essays

Last time, I explained my philosophy informing the way I constructed the final exam I gave to my copyright class last semester at Vanderbilt University Law School (which happens to be where I went to law school), plus Part I of said exam which consisted of 12 short answers.

Here, now, is my annotated Part II, complete with my comments about how the essay topics should have been addressed.

Preliminary note: The students were presented with eight short-essay topics a week before the exam period began. Of those, I chose four, and each student chose three of those to answer. That’s why the topic numbers go 1, 2, 4, 7. So, on the one hand, the students got to prepare in detail. On the other hand, there were diminishing returns in over-preparing. I chose to do this because of the three-hour time constraint. The idea is that the students would be able to address the topics in less time if they were able to prepare for specific topics. As a side-benefit, they were also forced to prepare for a wider range of topics than could actually be crammed into a three-hour exam.*

* The idea came to…

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Rick’s Copyright Course Final Exam: Part 1 of 3

Rick is an experienced Nashville intellectual-property litigator and an erstwhile part-time professor at Vanderbilt University Law School whose writing and teaching focuses on copyright issues but whose law practice involves a wide variety of IP-related disputes.

Part 1: The Important Details

If you follow my Twitter account very much, you already know that, in early January, I was really suffering. I was grading law exams for my Copyright course that I had taught at Vanderbilt University Law School. The problem wasn’t what the students had written. Many of the exam papers I received were excellent. The suffering was largely self-inflicted. I could have written a shorter, simpler or narrower exam, and spared myself a lot of grief. Had I known how hard the grading would be, I might have quailed when I was preparing the exam.

Exam Philosophy

And, yet, I don’t regret how I structured the exam. It was structured to test the ability to analyze core copyright concepts (e.g., substantial similarity, originality, authorship, ownership, fair use, the exclusive rights, etc.) and the many small but important details (e.g., termination rights, duration, restoration, misuse, minor defenses, etc.), plus stuff in between (useful articles, statutory licenses, architectural works, etc.). By and large, I think it succeeded.

One can’t cover everything, and traditionally law professors have tended not to sweat the details. But I felt I had to. In copyright law, details matter. And I remember how frustrated I was…

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