June 27, 2012
Comparative Digital Copyright
Summer Term 2011-2012
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday at 6:00pm – 9:30pm
Associate Professor Peter Mezei
This course aims to discuss some hot topics of the copyright law in the
digital age, and of the internet law from a comparative law aspect. In the
frames of the course students will be able to get familiarized with the
common law solutions of the covered topics in the United States, and
various types of the Continental European legal regimes.
The course includes an analysis of the challenges and effects of the Web 2.0
upon copyright law. The digital natives (as Viviane Reding has called the
young generation that use internet as a main way of communication) – in
accordance with the visions of Laurence Lessig – contribute to the
improvement of our culture. These usages have constantly contributed,
however, to the emergence of several remarkable concerns, too. Digitization
has become such a dominant activity that similarly can contribute to the
preservation of our culture. Issues of digitization by libraries and the
emergence of the problematic of orphan works are also worth to mention
The covered topics include the question of digital sampling, which is about
the use of pre-existing copyrighted sound recordings in new (usually
electronic and hip-hop) works. The solutions in the two different legal
systems are really different. Under the fair use doctrine the digital sampling
may not cause any infringement in the United States, but can hardly be
excused on the European continent.
P2P file-sharing is a relatively new area of digital copyright law, but
belongs to the most important question everywhere. The United States and
the European Union Member States follow, however, different paths in
resolving this problem. The United States concept of contributory and
vicarious liability doesn’t exist on the European Continent, where – on the
other hand – the public law and the technological control seem to be much
more effective than private law (copyright law).
The main objective of this course is to provide the students a practice-
oriented, analytical aspect on some hot topics of the current (digital)
copyright law regimes. The comparative legal aspect allows the students to
understand the major differences between the common law and the
continental legal systems to be able to study or criticize the different legal
solutions. This approach will help the students to use European, American
and international copyright law rules in their future career at law firms or at
courts, and to undertake independent research on the subject, using both
traditional and internet resources.
Readings (mainly court decisions, law journal articles, and selected statutory
provisions) will be assigned in due time. I will use extensive power point
presentations that will be made also available to the students. Students with
few or no copyright background should ask for some recommended readings
on the basics of copyright law in the United States and in Europe.
In class I will often cover aspects of your reading. Therefore, please keep up
with the reading and attend every class.
Reading. There will be about 50 pages of reading for each day, altogether
around 200 pages.
Final Exams. The final exam will cover a material that is analogue to the
issues presented during the session. Students will be required to draft a
neutral pleading on the aforementioned topic in a home assignment.
In-Class Participation. You should be prepared to contribute to the
discussion in class. If you cannot make class, please email me in advance at:
email@example.com and obtain a copy of class notes from one of your
colleagues after class.
Grading. Components of your grade are as follows:
Final Exam 100%
If you miss more than two (2) classes without good cause or don’t
participate in class discussions, your grade may suffer as a result.
Selected readings will be assigned to the students for the selected topics that
will be covered.
- Introduction to Digital Copyright Law; Basics of Comparative
- The comparison of the major differences between the Continental and
the Common Law Copyright Systems: the “droit d’autheur” and
- The fair use doctrine of the United States;
- The free use exceptions in the Continental Legal systems;
- Improvement of the Culture via Web 2.0;
- Preservation of Culture by Library Digitization;
- The Issue of Orphan Works.
- Robert Kasunic: Copyright’s Uneasy Transition into the Web 2.0
Environment, Landslide, March/April 2009, p. 8-12.;
- Kevin Kelly: The New Socialism: Global Collectivist Society Is
Coming Online, Wired Magazine 17.06 (available at
- Matthew Sag: The Google Book Settlement and the Fair Use
Counterfactual, New York Law School Law Review, 2010, p. 19-75.
Recommended, but not compulsory readings:
- Jonathan Band: The Long and Winding Road to the Google Books
Settlement, John Marshall Review of Intellectual Property Law,
Winter 2010, p. 227-329.
- Katharina De La Durantaye: H is for Harmonization: The Google
Book Search Settlement and Orphan Works Legislation in the
European Union, New York Law School Law Review, 2010/11, p. 158-
- P2P filesharing
o evolution and technology: the “generations” of P2P
o leading cases in the United States (MP3.com, Napster,
Grokster, LimeWire, IsoHunt cases), and in Europe (Napster,
KaZaA, AllofMP3.com, Tele2, Promusicae, SABAM cases);
o rights of the authors;
o fair use/free use exceptions;
o alternative solutions (alternative business models, growing
legal services, the French “riposte graduée” and other “three
- Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc., et al., v. Gary Fung, et al., 96
U.S.P.Q.2d 1620 (2009);
- BMG Music, et. al., v. Cecilia Gonzales, 430 F.3d 888 (2005);
- Atlantic Recording Corporation, et. al., v. Pamela and Jeffrey Howell,
554 F.Supp.2d 976 (2008);
- Capitol Records Inc., et al., v. Jammie Thomas-Rasset, 799 F.Supp.2d
- The Pirate Bay verdict, Stockholm District Court, Verdict B 13301-06
- Case C-275/06 – Productores de Música de España (Promusicae) v.
Telefónica de España SAU, European Court of Justice, 29.01.2008
(available at: http://eur-
- Case C-70/10 – Scarlet Extended SA v. Société belge des auteurs,
compositeurs et éditeurs SCRL (SABAM), European Court of Justice,
24.11.2011 (available at:
- Digital sampling
o evolution and technology;
o leading cases in the United States (Grand Upright, Jarvis,
Newton, and Bridgeport cases), and in Europe (Rolling Stones,
Kraftwerk and Kovács Kati cases);
o rights of the authors;
o fair use/free use exceptions.
- Lauren Fontein Brandes: From Mozart to Hip-Hop: The Impact of
Bridgeport v. Dimension Films on Musical Creativity, UCLA
Entertainment Law Review, Winter 2007, p. 93-127.;
- Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Dimension Films, 410 F.3d 792 (2005);
- Ben Challis: The Song Remains the Same, A Review of the Legalities
of Digital Sampling, WIPO Magazine, December 2009, p. 16-19.
- Tomasz Rychlicki - Adam Zieliňski: Is Sampling Always Copyright
Infringement?, WIPO Magazine, December 2009, p. 20-21. (available
- Sam Ricketson: WIPO Study in Limitations and Exceptions of
Copyright and Related Rights in the Digital Environment. Standing
Committee on Copyright and Related Rights, Ninth Session, Geneva,
June 23-27, 2003, p. 13-16. (available at