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Entertainment Law

A Copyright Primer

Copyright Law may seem shrouded in mystery: how can you create, transfer, and protect property interests in something intangible? This lesson provides an overview of how it is done, focusing on copyright protection for music. This focus takes advantage of the multimedia capacity of the program; for example, you can listen to two musical works to determine whether one infringes the other, and you can listen to the parody version of "Pretty Woman" that figured in a decision of the United States Supreme Court.

Distinctiveness

This lesson provides an analysis of the levels of distinctiveness and the requirements for the determination of whether a term chosen as a mark is inherently distinctive, must yet acquire distinctiveness, or is incapable of trademark protection regardless of distinctiveness. The lesson is intended as a review of material that is covered early in a Trademark Law course.

Drafting Contracts Using 'Shall', 'May' and 'Must'

A large percentage of litigation arising out of contracts results from poor drafting. In order to eliminate this litigation, it is imperative that students and legal professionals master good drafting skills. One of the most important aspects of drafting a contract is the operative language--language that affects legal relationships. This lesson is designed to introduce law students to operative language commonly used in drafting contracts, in particular, language of obligation (shall), language of authorization (may) and language of condition precedent (must). The lesson begins with a segment explaining each of the three categories of operative language followed by exercises which permit the student to apply his or her understanding of proper usage of that category. The lesson concludes with a segment of general exercises that test whether students have mastered the distinctions among the different categories of operative language.

Foreign Words and Personal Names as Trademarks

This lesson explores how trademark law deals with two specific categories of marks: foreign (non-English) words and people's names. It addresses their ability to function as marks as well as how they should be assessed when determining infringement. The lesson assumes a working familiarity with the "distinctiveness" requirement, the fair use doctrine, and the likelihood of confusion test for infringement.

Fundamentals of Fair Use

Because copyright creates ownership rights in original expression, the private property interests of copyright owners sometimes come into conflict with the public's interest in disseminating knowledge, expressing ideas, or simply enjoying, sharing, and building upon the protected expression. This lesson introduces the basic concept of fair use in copyright law, and offers numerous examples to test the student's ability to apply the balancing test of 17 U.S.C. § 107.

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