UCL Faculty of Laws


Copyright & Related Rights (LAWS0251)

This module takes a comparative approach to copyright law, looking at the UK, EU and selected aspects of US law.

In the digital age, copyright is increasingly important not only because of the economic significance of the industries it supports, but also because of their profound impact on the shaping of our cultural landscape. Artificial intelligence (AI) has been a significant development which inspired creativity by giving authors another tool to create with, but it has also posed difficult questions for copyright law. 

We aim to provide you with a detailed understanding of the law of copyright in the United Kingdom. Despite Brexit, the European Union has had a strong influence on the manner in which copyright law looks like currently in the UK. Therefore, in many sessions there will be a strong focus on EU law. In addition, the module will dedicate some time to drawing a comparison with the US copyright system as one of the other extremely important copyright jurisdictions. The comparison will not be with respect to all aspects of copyright law, but only in the context of defences (ie, permitted uses), approach to fundamental rights and moral rights. 

We will consider how copyright relates to subject matter including books, films, musical and artistic works and certain aspects of performances. The module will focus on issues relating to acquisition of these rights, their infringement and enforcement. Throughout the module we engage with the challenges presented by the digital age and AI. Many questions in modern copyright law are without answers. The law is potentially ill/not equipped to address them and this will be the basis for our discussions. 

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

Topics include: 

  • Subject matter of copyright law 

  • Originality 

  • Authorship, ownership, qualification and duration 

  • Reproduction and adaptation 

  • Communication to the public 

  • Distribution 

  • Exceptions and limitations 

  • Moral rights 

  • Intermediaries liability 

  • Press publishers right 

  • Copyright contracts 

  • Fundamental rights

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. 

The module textbook is intended to be Bently, Sherman, Gangjee & Johnson, Intellectual Property (6th Ed; OUP; 2022)

Preliminary Reading

There is no required preliminary reading. The following resources might be consulted for a sense of the relevant debates: 

  • The copyright chapters in Jacob, Alexander & Fisher, Guidebook to Intellectual Property, (Hart Publishing, 2022) could be used as an introductory guide.  

  • Robert Merges, Justifying Copyright (Harvard University Press, 2011) introduces some topical issues 

  • Terry Fisher, ‘Theories of Intellectual Property’, available here: https://cyber.harvard.edu/people/tfisher/iptheory.pdf 

Key information

Module details
Credit value:45 credits (450 learning hours)
Convenor:Alina Trapova
Other Teachers:


Teaching Delivery:20 x 2-hour weekly lectures, Term One and Two
Who may enrol:LLM students only
Must not be taken with:None
Qualifying module for:

LLM in Intellectual Property Law

Practice Assessment:Opportunity for feedback on one optional practice essay per term (two in total) 
Final Assessment:Exam (50%) and coursework (50%)