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CMST 3II3 Comm&PolicyOfIntellectProp

Academic Year: Winter 2017

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. David Murphy


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 333

Phone: 905-525-9140 x

Office Hours: TBA

Course Objectives:

This course grapples with the fundamental principles, questions, and politics of intellectual property, from both a practical and legal perspective.  While intellectual property is supposed to incentivize creativity and balance the rights of citizens, a gap between law and practice currently exists—a gap that we will examine by surveying laws; policies; and the perspectives of institutions, industries, and artists. Possible topics include: cultural and artistic practices that challenge intellectual property norms; the creative commons and the public domain; piracy; intellectual property and new technologies; international development; and the globalization of intellectual property norms.

Students will leave the course equipped 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 analyse their interests;
  • Explore new artistic and cultural practices that challenge intellectual property norms.
  • Conceptualize the relationship between intellectual property and new technologies.
  • Understand current issues in intellectual property and how they relate to the larger global context.

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 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

Active Learning Activity (15%) - Weekly

Midterm (25%) - February 13

Essay (25%) - March 30

Final Exam (30%) - TBA

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late assignments will be penalized at the rate of 5% per day (including weekends and holidays) unless alternate arrangements have been made in advance. If a serious issue arises that requires an extension, I may ask you to get in touch with the Student Wellness Center (, so you can take advantage of the services they provide.

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

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 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 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:

Week 1: Introduction. (Jan. 5).

Week 2: What is Intellectual Property? (Jan.9; Jan. 12)

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.

Doctorow, Corey. “Intellectual Property” is a silly euphemism.

Active Learning Activity (Brainstorming) - Intellectual Property: What counts?

Week 3: Copyright 1 (Jan. 16; Jan. 19).

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

Tawfik, Myra J. International Copyright Law and “Fair Dealing” as a User Right.

Active Learning Activity (Role Playing) – Creators, Publishers, and Users.

Week 4: Copyright 2: Copyright and Technology (Jan. 23; Jan. 25).

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

Boyle, James. “The Internet Threat” in The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind. pp.58-79 (Chapter 4).

Active Learning Activity (Debate) - SOPA v. Wikipedia.

Week 5: Copyright 3: Fair Dealing and the Creative Industries (Jan. 30; Feb. 2).

Coombe, Rosemary J., Wershler, Darren, and Zellinger, Martin. “Introducing Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Digital Culture” in Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online.

Hargreaves, Ian. Digital Opportunity: A Review of Intellectual Property and Growth. pp. 3-15.

Active Learning Activity (Debate) - The Verve v. The Rolling Stones.

Week 6: Copyright 4: International Copyright (Feb. 6; Feb. 9).

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

Bannerman, Sara. “Canadian Copyright: History, Change, and Potential” in Canadian Journal of Communication (36) 1: 31-50.

Active Learning Activity (Crowd Sourced Questions for Midterm Review).

Week 7: Midterm (Feb. 13)

Week 8: Reading Week (Feb. 20; Feb. 24)

Week 9: Patents 1 (Feb. 27; March 2).

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

“When Patents Attack!” This American Life (July 22, 2011). Active Learning Activity (Brainstorming) – Patents: What Counts?

Week 10: Patents 2 (March 6; March 9).

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

Barlett, Donald L., and Steele, James B. “Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear” in Vanity Fair (April 2, 2008).

Active Learning Activity (Debate) – Monsanto v. Farmers.

Week 11: Gender, Heritage, and Traditional Knowledge (March 13; March 16).

Sunder, Madhavi. “The Invention of Traditional Knowledge.” 70 Law and Contemporary Problems 97-124.

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. 

Active Learning Activity: TBA

Week 12: Trademarks (March 20; March 23)

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.

Active Learning Activity (Crowd-Sourced Research Assignment) – Websites: Real or Fake?

Week 13: Piracy and the Future of Intellectual Property (March 27; March 30)

Raustiala, Kal, and Sprigman, Christopher Jon. “The Piracy Paradox: Innovation and Intellectual Property in Fashion Design. Virginia Law Review 92 (8): 1688 – 1718.

Tehranian, John. Infringement Nation: Copyright Reform and the Law/Norm Gap. Utah Law Review (2007): 537-550.

Active Learning Activity (Debate) - Fashion v. Music.

Week 14: Review (April 3; April 7)

Active Learning Activity (Crowd Sourced Questions for Exam Review).

Other Course Information:

Active Learning Activity:

This class takes place in a brand new active learning classroom. To take advantage of the resources, Mondays will begin with an activity designed in accordance with the readings for that week. Students will sit in groups of 8 - 10 at pods distributed around the edge of the room.  Each pod is equipped with an LCD screen and cables that can be used to connect laptops. Your assigned group for the class will correspond with one of the pods, so please sit in the same location each week. 

Weeks 4, 5, 10, and 13 feature  debate activities, which will take place in class. A portion of the students assigned to each pod will form teams of five, and sign up for a debate week. Remaining students will select a non-debate week and compose a reading response, due the following Monday, incorporating information gleaned from that week’s activity. Debates and reading responses are worth 15% and will be marked using criteria posted on Avenue to Learn.


The midterm will be written in class on February 13. It will cover lectures, required readings, and debates.

Final Exam:

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


An essay on a topic related to the communication law and policy.  Specific topics will be discussed and assigned in class.  Essays will be marked for spelling and grammar; organization (good paragraph and essay form); and depth of argument. 

Submission Process:

All work must be submitted via the Avenue to Learn ( drop box, 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.