UCL Faculty of Laws


Comparative Copyright Law (LAWS0168)

This module takes a comparative, thematic approach to copyright law.

In the digital age, copyright law is increasingly important not only because of the economic significance of the industries that it supports, but also because of the profound impact that it has on the shaping of our cultural landscape.

This module focuses on the law of the UK, EU and US; but other jurisdictions may also be considered where they provide an interesting point of comparison. We examine issues and difficulties relating to the subsistence of copyright, as well as its infringement and enforcement. We engage with the challenges posed by the digital age throughout the module and, time permitting, we may consider a specific case study.

In addition to acquiring detailed knowledge of UK, EU and US copyright law, this module will enable students to critically assess and interpret relevant case law, legislation and academic literature in the field. Students will also learn how to apply their knowledge to legal problems and to engage with significant normative debates in this area.

Module syllabus

This module is subject to change.

  1. Introduction (history, international context, overview of UK, EU & US copyright systems)
  2. Justifications and philosophical underpinning of the law
  3. Basic requirements for copyright subsistence (subject matter, threshold for protection, qualification and duration of protection)
  4. Authorship, joint authorship & ownership (including ownership of works created by employees)
  5. Infringement (basic requirements, acts of infringement, the idea/expression dichotomy)
  6. Exceptions (contrasting fair use and fair dealing approaches)
  7. Moral Rights
  8. A case study, which will vary from year to year, may be considered. For example: the problem of large scale collaboration; copyright and the 'remix'; the open access movement; the orphan works problem; the liability of intermediaries, etc.

Recommended materials

Module reading lists and other module materials will be provided via online module pages, once students have made their module selections upon enrolment.

Preliminary reading

  • Robert Merges, Justifying Copyright (Harvard University Press, 2011).

This book introduces some topical issues in this area – it is not compulsory reading for this course.

Key information

Module details
Credit value:30 credits (15 ECTS, 300 learning hours)
Convenor:Daniela Simone
Other Teachers:None
Teaching Delivery:20 x 2-hour weekly seminars, 10 seminars per term, Term One and Two
Who may enrol:LLM students only
Must not be taken with:None
Qualifying module for:LLM in Comparative Law
LLM in Intellectual Property Law
Practice Assessment:Opportunity for feedback on one optional practice essay per term (two in total)
Final Assessment:Exam (100%)