Writing studies practitioners in the IP Law, Legal Issues, and Stories about Them video reference legal decisions and stories of the law that the use in their teaching. Given the complexity of these discussions, this video is longer than the videos for the other dimensions. This length should not be understood to indicate that this dimension is more important than the others. Rather, we felt it necessary to include longer sections in their entirely to allow viewers to understand the legal issues and court cases referenced, given their complexity.
John Logie begins the video discussing how he teaches undergraduate students about intellecutal property (IP) by addressing copyright law, particularly the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. This act made the copyright term in the U.S. the life of the author plus 70 years (extending the term from 50 years). As a result, it took a large swath of texts out of the Public Domain (those texts whose copyrights have expired and are free for others to use). At the time, it was widely assumed that Disney was behind this push to extend the copyright term in order to protect its early cartoons and films. Michael Pemberton then shares how he teaches students about work-for-hire arrangements (i.e., contracts and terms of employment that stipulate the employer owns the copyright on products the employee creates). He urges students to be careful not to sell their rights too quickly—with the example of legal decisions regarding Superman comics, where the creators were paid only $130 in total in their work-for-hire agreement. Next, Joonna Smitherman Trapp, senior program coordinator for the writing program at Emory University, discusses the "Domain of One's Own" project at Emory University and how, in conjunction with it, she teaches students about legal uses of logos on the websites they create, particularly by referencing a Star Wars meme example. (Logos are a type of IP that are often tightly controlled.) Jeff Galin then shares how he advises graduate students and novice members of the discipline to question publishers' restrictive practices by discussing a court cases involving James Joyce's estate. This estate is well known for tightly controlling permissions for reusing Joyce's materials. Logie follows, discussing two legal situations he uses when teaching graduate students about fair use as well as their prospects of being sued: first, the 2014 Robin Thicke vs. Marvin Gaye case, where Gaye's children successfully sued Thicke and co-writer Pharrell for copyright infringement for their song "Blurred Lines," and second, the remix activities of the music group A Plus D. Likewise, Kyle Stedman references a legal example, in his case, the 2015 Stephanie Lenz case involving Prince's music (Lenz v. Universal Music Corporation), where Universal Music Corporation claimed copyright infringement for a brief YouTube video featuring Lenz's toddler son dancing to Prince's music. Lenz argued the video was fair use, which Universal did not take into account in leveraging their accusation. Ultimately, the case was settled out of court with Universal agreeing to consider fair use in future analyses for copyright infringement. Stedman comforts students that they are unlikely to be sued for copyright violations without first having a chance to remove the offending material.
Galin shifts the discussion to teachers, emphasizing the importance of what he calls the Georgia State case (Cambridge University Press et al. v. Patton) in determining legal guidelines for how teachers can provide materials to students—despite the fact that, according to him, many teachers summarily ignore fair use guidelines. In this case, several publishers claimed that the Georgia State Libraries illegally put digital copies of texts on reserve whereas Georgia State claimed doing so constituted fair use. In the final clip in this video, Stedman provides an example of a writing studies practitioner thinking through the influence of IP on his own teaching. He shares that he tends to be on the "liberal side" of fair use but he knows that "real" judges disagree with him and that gives him pause. In this way, he models what other interview participants do in their teaching (and in deciding how to approach their teaching): they bring what they know about the law, including specific examples of legal decisions, to the classroom, not to offer these decisions as providing definitive answers but to present them as highlighting the complexity and context dependence of IP.