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Monday
Jan282013

Changing Tech, Changing Law School

I'll be speaking Thursday at the 2013 Chapman Law Review Symposium on how law school (and particularly IP law) curriculum should change to keep pace with technology.  Our moderator is the brilliant John Tehranian (TWiL fans will remember him from Episode 120), and it'll be great to meet David Levine (me = huge fan of Hearsay Culture) and Deven Desai (me = huge and very long-time fan of Concurring Opinions).  

Here are some points I'd like to raise:

From Ruocaled on Flickr (CC/Attribution)Online distribution, licensing, and selective enforcement.  A traditional IP law education probably equips lawyers to help clients address the "Hey, they're using my thing and I didn't say they could" problem.  I don't know if it adequately equips lawyers to help clients with the "Hey, how do I get them to use my thing?" issue, however.  How can clients effectively use Creative Commons?  How can they effectively partner with YouTube and other distribution hubs?  In the case of Psy, thousands of parodies and remixes of an original work turned relative obscurity into global ubiquity.  A modern IP curriculum should give granting rights equal shrift with establishing and preserving them.

IP for all, and terms of service.  IP lawyers are traditionally well equipped to help commercial clients manage IP, but IP is increasingly something that touches people in their daily lives.  Can Facebook sell photos of your kid to AT&T?  What happens to IP you've posted to a social networking site after you terminate your account?  After your death?  Even though people don't read terms of service they care a lot about what rights they may be granting in their online photographs, reviews, tweets, blog posts, etc.  Lawyers should be learning how to draft IP terms of service that are clear and not overbroad.  They should also be learning how to advise clients about their rights in materials submitted to social networks, and about related right of publicity issues. 

From crschmidt on Flickr (CC/Attribution)Globalization.  I don't know how well a traditional IP law education equips lawyers trained in the U.S. to deal with the fact that a business with an online presence or business model is an international one.  Lawyers should be learning about treaties and global policies that effect IP considerations around the world.

IP Policy.  I hope a modern IP law curriculum looks at the state of
IP lawmaking:  recent unsuccessful attempts to extend IP protections
(SOPA, PIPA), the competing interests shaping IP legislation,
copyright and patent reform, etc.

If you're a law student and have any thoughts about what kind of changes you'd like to see in the IP law curriculum, please chime in.  (You'll be doing me a huge favor, as the last time I directly experienced IP law in the law school context, Ronald Reagan was President.)  

Reader Comments (1)

Great article. I really liked the idea of "IP for all." This personalization could be a great way to start an intro IP course by allowing the students to focus on how IP affects them on a daily basis, then moving towards the view of from a company regarding IP rights.

Sadly we didn't cover any of those in my IP, Trademark, or Patent law classes, only the basics. A few other suggestions. Would love to see more IP classes focus time on how IP relates to other legal topics such as IP in a bankruptcy, tax and transfer pricing of IP, and IP in M&A transactions.

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNick Hoeffler

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