Lawyering for Innovation: A Case Study


Course Code:
LAW 4020
Law Honors/Pass/Restrd Cr/Fail


(Formerly Law 769) Strategic lawyering in the 21st century requires a combination of critical skillsets, including facility with technology, product design, partnerships, dispute resolution, and policy. No issue in the digital age has demonstrated this better than the history of and litigation surrounding Google Books. For over a decade, from the inception of the product to the resolution of its legal issues, lawyers were integrally involved with engineers and the business every step of the way. They helped design its features, defend it from lawsuits, craft a settlement, and advocate complementary policy positions. On a broader level, the history of ebooks is a microcosm of the opportunities and challenges of the digital age: new technologies to reproduce and distribute works, changing consumer norms, massive disruptions to economic interests, evolving concepts of fair use, increased access to information, fears about piracy, and threats to competition. Every one of these issues requires skilled lawyering in close partnership with business leadership. This seminar will focus on strategic lawyering at the cutting edge of innovation by closely studying, among other things, the history of Google Books and the evolution of copyright in the digital age. We will look at how leading businesses, including Google, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft, have each used law, litigation, and policy as tools to advance their business interests. We will focus on developments related to ebooks, and also study analogous issues involving the music, movie, and newspaper industries. The seminar will include guest speakers who have led legal strategies to further innovation. Some copyright experience is helpful but not essential. The course is open to graduate students throughout the university, especially the Graduate School of Business, the Department of Communication, and the Journalism Program. Special Instructions: Students on the waitlist for the course will be admitted if spots are available on the basis of their position on the waitlist and degree of study. Elements used in grading: Grading will be based upon weekly reflections, class participation, and a short final paper (or, for those opting for Research credit, a longer paper based on independent research). A version of this course was taught at Stanford Law School in 2015 and Harvard Law School in 2016. After the term begins, students accepted into the course can transfer from section (01) into section (02), which meets the R requirement, with consent of the instructor.

Current Offerings

2017-2018 Autumn

Lawyering for Innovation: A Case Study LAW 4020 Section 01 Class #30637

  • 3 Units
  • Enrollment Limitations: Lottery 16
  • Wed
  • Room: William H. Neukom building 104

Lawyering for Innovation: A Case Study LAW 4020 Section 02 Class #30638

  • 3 Units
  • Enrollment Limitations: Consent

Notes: R -Research Requirement for Law Degree.

  • Wed

Past Offerings

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