August 27, 2008

Copyright Issues at an Early Law School

Angela Fernandez, University of Toronto School of Law, has published "Copying and Copyright Issues at the Litchfield Law School," as University of Toronto Legal Studies Research Paper 08-13. Here is the abstract.

The notebook method of legal education used at the famous Litchfield Law School (1774-1833) has long been a subject of intense interest among Connecticut historians, legal historians, and those interested in legal education and the legal profession. The present article, Copying and Copyright Issues at the Litchfield Law School, forthcoming in the fall 2008 volume of Connecticut History, sets the notebook method used at the School in its copying context. More specifically, it explains how the copying of lectures used to create these notebooks gave rise to the problem of rampant unauthorized reproduction, a serious threat to an institution the raison d'etre of which was the production of a set of these notebooks. The article reports on and reproduces excerpts from an 1826 letter evidencing just how dire the situation had become and the lengths to which the School's surviving proprietor, James Gould, was willing to go in order to protect the lectures, as against the sense of the students that they were ripe for reproduction. Gould registered the lectures for copyright protection in 1827 and the question is, given how strongly he felt about the matter, why he did not do it sooner. It would seem that, like the students, Gould took some time to see these notes as a proper object of copyright protection.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

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