Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Culture and Copyright

ENGL 105.950


In this course, we look at the history of copyright law in Britain and the US, and we explore the ways that copyright has both responded to new media and driven art and entertainment. How, for example, is a new medium (printed books, photography, recorded music, film and the internet) defined in relation to existing media? How does the law accommodate shifting ideas and circumstances of authorship? What are the limits of fair use (US) and fair dealing (UK)? And how have writers, artists, engineers and creative industries responded to various changes in copyright law? A major focus of the course is the lessons of history for the current copyright debates over such issues as file sharing, the public domain and new technologies. Making use of our surroundings, we visit the locations where copyright began and was first practiced in eighteenth-century London..

fulfills requirements
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Sector IV: Interdisciplinary Humanities and Social Sciences of the College's General Education Curriculum