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CMST 3II3 Comm&Policy Of Intellect Prop

Academic Year: Winter 2016

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Sara Bannerman

Email: banners@mcmaster.ca

Office: Togo Salmon Hall 302

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23722


Office Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays 3-4PM

Course Objectives:

This course will equip students to grapple with the fundamental principles, questions, and politics of intellectual property in communications and multimedia today, offering a practical and legal understanding of intellectual property as well as exploring overarching questions.  Such questions may include those surrounding new cultural and artistic practices that challenge intellectual property norms; the relationship between intellectual property and free speech and censorship; the relationship between intellectual property and new technologies; intellectual property enforcement; intellectual property and international development; and the globalization of intellectual property norms.

Students will leave the course equipped able to:

  • Identify and describe various types of intellectual property law and how they are applied;
  • Apply the basic principles of intellectual property to specific cases;
  • Explain the roles of central intellectual property institutions;
  • Identify key groups in intellectual property policymaking and those affected by intellectual property, and analyse their interests;
  • Analyse the ways that new artistic and cultural practices challenge intellectual property norms;
  • Analyse the relationship between intellectual property and new technologies, and the challenges posed, and opportunities raised, by new technologies;
  • Understand current issues in intellectual property and how they relate to the larger global context of intellectual property normsetting.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

The text for this course is Canada’s Intellectual Property Law in a Nutshell, 2nd ed. (2010).  Copies are available at the University Bookstore.  The remaining course readings can be accessed via the links provided in Avenue to Learn.  Some of these will require that you log on through the library system in order to have access to the journal; others you can access directly through the link. 

Method of Assessment:

Attendance                               10%

Weekly quizzes                         10%      due weekly

Short Assignments (2)               20%      due Feb 1 and Feb 29 at 11:59PM

Essay                                       30%      due Apr 1; no late penalty if handed in by Apr 8 (last day of class) by 11:59PM

Final exam                                30%      during exam period


A substantial portion of the course material will be delivered during class discussions and lectures.  Attendance is therefore important and is worth 10% of your grade. 


A student who notifies the instructor in advance that he or she will be required to miss a class or a part of a class for an acceptable reason, or, in the case of an unforeseen emergency, who notifies the instructor after the fact of the reasons for missing class, may make alternate arrangements to hand in assignments.  Under such circumstances, the attendance mark will be based on the remaining classes.

Weekly quizzes

Weekly quizzes for all dates for weeks 1-12 of the course are due by the start of each class.  Each quiz asks for some initial thoughts on the weekly response question.  Responses must be of sufficient depth and length, and must demonstrate engagement with the readings for marks to be awarded. Each quiz is worth 1 percent out of 10 percent in the course allocated to online participation.  Late quizzes will not be accepted.  It is possible to achieve bonus marks by answering more than 10 quizzes.

Short Assignments (2)

Response questions should be answered in 3-4 double-spaced pages, formatted using MLA, and must include a bibliography.  Responses should demonstrate engagement with the readings and depth of thought. 

The first response should draw on one of the response questions listed under classes 2-5.

The second response should respond to one of the response questions listed under classes 2-10.


Students will write a final essay on a topic provided by the instructor. The final essay should be 8 pages long, double-spaced and typed, formatted using MLA, and must include a bibliography. It should incorporate concepts discussed in the course and the course readings, as well as outside research.

Final exam

The final exam will be based on all material covered in the lectures, required readings, and class discussions.  It will take place during the exam period.

Submission Process

All work must be submitted via the Avenue to Learn (http://avenue.mcmaster.ca/) drop box by the deadline, or as per the instructions given in classAssignments due after the last day of class must be submitted via the Avenue to Learn drop box unless other arrangements have been made with the instructor.  Assignments handed in to a different location will not be accepted unless prior arrangements have been made.  Do not drop off assignments in the CMST office.  Emailed assignments will not be accepted.  Always maintain electronic or other back-up copies of whatever you submit.   

Online Component

In this course we will be using Avenue to Learn (http://avenue.mcmaster.ca/). Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Weekly response questions are due at the start of each class.  They may not be submitted late.

Other late assignments will be penalized at the rate of 5% per day (including weekends and holidays) unless alternate arrangements have been made in advance.  

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

The instructor and university reserve the right to modify elements of the course during the term.  The university may change the dates and deadlines for any or all courses in extreme circumstances.  If either type of modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes.  It is the responsibility of the student to check their McMaster email and course websites weekly during the term and to note any changes.

WEEK 1 Jan 6              Introduction

WEEK 2 Jan 11 & 13     What is Intellectual Property? 

Kratz, Martin. Canada’s Intellectual Property Law in a Nutshell. pp. 1-15 (Chapter 1).         

Hettinger, Edwin C. “Justifying Intellectual Property” in Philosophy and Public Affairs 18 (1): 31-52. ISSN: 0048-3915   http://libaccess.mcmaster.ca/login?url=http://www.jstor.org.libaccess.lib.mcmaster.ca/stable/2265190 

Martin, Brian. “Against Intellectual Property.”  Philosophy and Social Action 21(3): 7-22. ISSN: 0377-2772 http://www.bmartin.cc/pubs/95psa.html

            Response Question: Is intellectual property justified? Explain.

WEEK 3 Jan 18 & 20     Copyright 1                                                     

Kratz, Martin. Canada’s Intellectual Property Law in a Nutshell. pp. 17-62 (first part of Chapter 2).

Geist, Michael “Low-Tech Case Has High-Tech Impact.” Toronto Star, 22 March 2004, D01.  Available online at: http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/1743/159/

Alberta (Education) v. Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency (Access Copyright), 2012 SCC 37, pp. 6-10 (summary) and 14-28 (reasons for judgement). http://scc-csc.lexum.com/decisia-scc-csc/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/9997/1/document.do

            Response Question: What types of copying can and should students and teachers be able to do for free in an educational context? Explain.

WEEK 4 Jan 25 & 27     Copyright 2: Copyright and Technology                      

(Jan. 25: GUEST SPEAKER: DR. NATASHA TUSIKOV, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Brock University)

Kratz, Martin. Canada’s Intellectual Property Law in a Nutshell. pp. 69-85 (part of Chapter 2).                    

Weatherall, Kimberlee. “The New (Old) War on Copyright Infringement, and How Context is Opening New Regulatory Possibilities.” Media International Australia 143 (2012): 110-121.  Available at http://libaccess.mcmaster.ca.libaccess.lib.mcmaster.ca/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=cms&AN=77905890&site=ehost-live&scope=site

            Response Question: Is technology taking us in the right direction, when it comes to copyright?  What is the right direction when it comes to copyright enforcement in the digital environment?  How should, and how shouldn’t, copyright be enforced online?

WEEK 5 Feb 1 & 3        Copyright 3: International Aspects      

Kratz, Martin. Canada’s Intellectual Property Law in a Nutshell. pp. 253-260 (Chapter 15).

Story, Alan. “Inside Views: ‘Balanced’ Copyright: Not a Magic Saving Word.” Intellectual Property Watch 27 February 2012. http://www.ip-watch.org/2012/02/27/%E2%80%98balanced%E2%80%99-copyright-not-a-magic-solving-word/

Optional: You can view the original article upon which the above article is based here:

Story, Alan. “Burn Berne: Why the Leading International Copyright Convention Must be Repealed”. Houston Law Review, 40 (3): 763-803. ISSN 0018-6694. Available online at http://kar.kent.ac.uk/251/1/storyg3r.pdf

           Response Question: Is the international copyright system fair? 

WEEK 6 Feb 8 & 10      Patents 1                                                         

Kratz, Martin. Canada’s Intellectual Property Law in a Nutshell. pp. 201-232 (first part of Chapter 12).

Turner, James. “Has the US Patent System Gone too Far?” Christian Science Monitor, 12 March 2009. http://www.csmonitor.com/Innovation/Tech-Culture/2009/0312/has-the-us-patent-system-gone-too-far

           Response Question: What are some of the benefits and problems in the patent system?

Feb 15 & 17 - no class – reading week

WEEK 7 Feb 22 & 24     Patents 2                                                         

Liddle, Kenneth James. “Gene Patents: The Controversy and the Law in the Wake of Myriad.” 44 Suffolk University Law Review 684-702. http://suffolklawreview.org/liddle-genes/

Forman, Lisa. “Human Rights Impact Assessment Of Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights: A Key Strategy In Post-2015 Efforts To Improve Access To Safe And Accessible Medicines.” Journal of Health Diplomacy 1 no. 1 (2013): 1-7. Available at http://www.ghd-net.org/sites/default/files/Human%20Rights%20Impact%20Assessment%20Of%20Trade-Related%20Intellectual%20Property%20Rights_0.pdf

            Response Question: Should human genes be patentable? Why or why not?


           Should patent regimes be relaxed or reformed in light of particular health crises?  If not, why not?  If so, how?

WEEK 8 Feb 29 & Mar 2 Traditional Knowledge; Gender

Sunder, Madhavi. “The Invention of Traditional Knowledge.” 70 Law and Contemporary Problems 97-124. http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1421&context=lcp

Bartow, Ann. “Fair Use and the Fairer Sex: Gender, Feminism, and Copyright Law.” American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law 14 (3): 551-584.  ISSN: 1068-428X http://libaccess.mcmaster.ca/login?url=http://www.lexisnexis.com.libaccess.lib.mcmaster.ca/lnacui2api/api/version1/getDocCui?lni=4KSK-PPK0-00CV-4004&csi=148895&hl=t&hv=t&hnsd=f&hns=t&hgn=t&oc=00240&perma=true

           Response Question: Is the intellectual property system fair to traditional communities and/or women? Why or            why not?

WEEK 9 Mar 7 & 9        Trademark                                                       

Kratz, Martin. Canada’s Intellectual Property Law in a Nutshell. pp. 135-167 (Chapters 7 and 8).

Helft, Michael. “Companies Object to Google Policy on Trademarks.” New York Times, 14 May 2009. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/15/technology/internet/15google.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=Order%20of%20Ads%20On%20Google%20Leads%20to%20Suit&st=cse

           Response Question: To what extent should trademark owners be able to control the use of their marks by third parties such as Google?

WEEK 10 Mar 14 & 16   Appropriation of personality and other forms of Intellectual Property

Kratz, Martin. Canada’s Intellectual Property Law in a Nutshell. pp. 169-177 (Chapter 9 – Personality Rights); pp. 125-130.

Flagg, Michael. “Star Crazy: Keeping the Right of Publicity out of Canadian Law.” AdIDEM: Canadian Media Lawyers’ Association. Available at: http://www.adidem.org/Star_Crazy:_Keeping_the_Right_of_Publicity_out_of_Canadian_Law

           Response Question: How much control should celebrities have over the use of their image by third parties? Explain.

WEEK 11 Mar 21 & 23   The Future of Intellectual Property

Bradshaw, Simon, Adrian Bowyer and Patrick Haufe. “The Intellectual Property Implications of Low-Cost 3D Printing.” ScriptED 7 no. 1 (April 2010): 5-31. http://www2.law.ed.ac.uk/ahrc/script-ed/vol7-1/bradshaw.pdf

Elkin-Koren, Niva. “Tailoring Copyright to Social Production.” Theoretical Inquiries in Law 12 no. 1: 309-347. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1663982

Recommended Reading:

Benkler, Yochai. “Commons-Based Strategies and the Problems of Patents.” Science 305 no. 5687 (2004): 1110-1111. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/305/5687/1110.summary

“The A2K (Access to Knowledge) Treaty Group.” Section 5.7 in The Copy/South Dossier: Issues in the Economics, Politics, and Ideology of Copyright in the Global South.  Alan Story, Colin Darch, and Debora Halbert, eds. Canterbury: Copy/South Research Group, 2006, pp. 161-164.


           Response Question: What are the most important changes that must be made to intellectual property law to ensure a bright future in light of changing modes of production and access?


WEEK 12 Mar 28 & 30   Copyright, Innovation, and Environment

Drahos, Peter. “Six Minutes to Midnight – Can Intellectual Property Save the World?”
Emerging Issues in Intellectual Property, Kathy Bowrey, Michael Handler and Dianne Nicol, eds. London: Oxford University Press, 2011. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1723774

Rimmer, Matthew. “Episode 14, Matthew Rimmer on Intellectual Property and Clean Technologies.” Transcript. 23 June 2010. (9 pages) http://publicethicsradio.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/per_transcript_rimmer.pdf

(You can also listen to the podcast at http://publicethicsradio.org/2010/06/23/episode-14-matthew-rimmer-on-intellectual-property-and-clean-technologies/ (31:05))

Recommended Reading:

Boldrin, Michele and David K. Levine. “Introduction.” Chapter 1 in Against Intellectual Monopoly. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.  Available at http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/papers/imbookfinal01.pdf

            Response Question: Can Intellectual Property save the world?

WEEK 13 Apr 4 & 6       Review and Discussion