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275 sec. 1 - Music Law Seminar (Fall 2014)

Instructor: Christopher Harrison  
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Units: 2
Meeting Time: M 3:35-5:25
Meeting Location: 140

Course Start: August 25, 2014
Class Number (formerly Course Control Number) (Non-1Ls): 49795

This seminar will introduce students to the law as it applies to the music industry. Topics will include legal issues surrounding writing music, recording music, performing music, distributing music (physically and digitally), licensing music, and miscellaneous but related topics such as trademarks and rights of publicity.

On the one hand, music law is fairly straightforward”the Copyright Act enumerates a number of exclusive rights with a corresponding list of exceptions to those rights. On the other hand, music law is famously complex”applying the (sometimes dense) language of the Copyright Act to particular facts can be daunting, particularly as technology creates ever new ways to reproduce, distribute, and perform music.

Music law may be thought of as having two separate legal foundations: copyright and contract. The Copyright Act provides the legal entitlement to exclusive use of creative works and is, therefore, the more significant foundation. The class will consider the foundational aspects of music law contained in the Copyright Act such as what may be copyrighted, who may own a copyright, what exclusive rights a copyright owner enjoys, what exceptions to those exclusive rights exist and who may qualify for those exceptions, and how a copyright owner may seek redress for a violation of her exclusive rights not covered by an exception. We will review recent case law to analyze how courts have answered these and other questions.

We also consider how contracts govern many of the relationships between the creators of copyrighted works and those who exploit such works; e.g., songwriters contractual relationships with music publishers, recording artists contractual relationships with record labels, and artists contractual relationships amongst themselves. We will also consider various trademark related issues such as the likelihood of confusion between bands with similar names and who owns the right to the name of a band that dissolves or changes performers. We will also consider related legal issues such as an artist’s right to exclusively exploit her “personality.”

Exam Notes: P
Course Category: Intellectual Property and Technology Law

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