Copyright gives authors of creative works (books, music, art, movies, and the like) a bundle of rights to control how their works are used, and it gives users a corresponding set of rights to make socially valuable uses of copyrighted works without right holder permission. The Constitutional purpose of these laws is to “promote Progress” in culture and learning. Legal professionals support clients, whether authors or members of the public, by helping them understand and employ their rights.
Students in the clinic gain exposure to a variety of kinds of copyright matters, including registering works with the US Copyright Office, drafting license agreements, sending and responding to cease and desist letters, sending and responding to DMCA takedown notices, providing opinion letters in support of fair use, and more. They also work with clinical faculty on the kinds of policy projects that make practice in Washington, DC, especially exciting, including advocacy for legal reform, participation in administrative policy formulation, and even media outreach campaigns. As a result of this wide-ranging practice, students gain an appreciation for the public interest dimension of copyright law; they see the law from multiple angles and interests, and how it operates in multiple venues and contexts.
Clients of the clinic get representation in matters where they might otherwise be unable to assert their rights, and a level of representation that rivals that provided by private law firms. In exchange for their agreeing to work with student attorneys, clients ranging from independent artists to non-profit organizations, small businesses to private individuals receive careful counsel and effective written work product.
The clinic provided IP counseling related to fair use issues for the following film makers:
|The Price of Pleasure|
|Nina Paley: The clinic conducted legal research in regards to the use of a song by Annette Henshaw in Nina Paley’s film, “Sita Sings the Blues” (here’s the song in the film) and advised her about the potential copyright and licensing issues. She credited the clinic in various interviews:
|A Dream in Doubt|
|The United States of Football|
|Help–Your-Self Inc.: The clinic provided IP advice and registered trademarks as well as a copyright for the client’s personnel management manual.|
|Retro Report: https://www.facebook.com/RetroReport
– NYTimes on McDonald’s “Hot Coffee” Case http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/28/booming/storm-still-brews-over-scalding-coffee.html?ref=booming&_r=1
- The Takeaway (NPR station WNYC) on “War on Cancer” http://www.thetakeaway.org/story/retro-report-looking-back-national-cancer-act/
- The Takeaway on “Walter Reed Medical Center” http://www.thetakeaway.org/story/retro-
- HuffPo on “Free Willy” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/19/freeing-willy-documentary_n_3957369.html