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2013/14 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

LAW5689M Intellectual Property in the Digital Environment: The Internet and File Sharing

15 creditsClass Size: 25

Module manager: Cesar Ramirez-Montes

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2013/14

Module replaces

LAW5696M Copyright & P2P File Sharing

This module is approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module provides an opportunity for analysis of some of the issues relating to the infringement of intellectual property rights in the digital environment where multiple copies can be made and distributed more easily, cheaply and speedily than before. The focus is the infringement of copyright in the context of peer-to-peer file-sharing. The module includes a mixture of 'black letter law' and socio-legal matters. It provides an overview of the content and application of the criteria for determining whether copyright subsists and whether an infringement of copyright has occurred. The subsistence, ownership, duration and infringement of performers - rights are also covered. A more in-depth analysis is conducted in relation to the subsistence, ownership and duration of copyright in the component elements of recorded songs, and the exclusive activities and defences which may be relevant in the context of file-sharing. The chain of authorised exploitation within the music industry is considered in the context of the economic incentives justification for the existence of copyright. Furthermore, students will be given the opportunity to analyse the level of music piracy by file-sharing, the impact of such infringement and the music industry's strategies for reducing the incidence of infringement.


Once you have completed this module you will be able to:
1) interpret the general principles regarding the subsistence, ownership and duration of the UK copyrights in recorded songs and of UK performers' rights, and the general principles regarding the protection of technology which is intended to prevent copyright infringement;
2) critically analyse the application of UK copyright law to the activities of those who upload, share and download copyright-protected recorded songs via peer-to-peer file-sharing networks and of those who provide software or an internet connection service that enables such activities;
3) explain the 'economic incentive' theory and the manner in which copyrights are exploited for economic gain by the music industry;
4) explain why people share copyright-protected recorded songs via peer-to-peer file-sharing networks and why some people are ceasing such activities;
5) critically evaluate documentation on the incidence of infringement of copyright, the impact of infringement of copyright and the impact of enforcement of copyright;
6) critically evaluate the music industry's approach regarding the enforcement of copyright law, the use of education and awareness campaigns, the use of technology and the use of changes to its business methods to reduce the incidence of copyright-infringing peer-to-peer file-sharing.

Learning outcomes
The student will be expected to be able to:
a) interpret the content of UK law on the subsistence of copyrights in recorded songs and the ownership and duration of such copyrights, and critically analyse the application of UK copyright law on the infringement of such copyrights in the context of peer-to-peer file-sharing; and
b) critically evaluate the arguments of users and the music industry in relation to the incidence of peer-to-peer file-sharing, the reasons for and against peer-to-peer file-sharing and the various approaches which might be adopted to reduce the incidence of copyright-infringing peer-to-peer file-sharing.

Skills outcomes
The student will be expected to become competent in the following core legal skills: legislation analysis, case analysis, critical analysis of commentary and legal reasoning.


The module is accordingly taught in five two-hour seminars spanning across the semester. Each seminar session is accompanied by a reading list that students are required to do and prepare answers to a set of questions designed to encourage students to focus on the most relevant aspects of the topic in question. In order to facilitate learning, the reading lists will be divided into essential and recommended reading (though occasionally there may be ‘further’ reading for those wishing to explore certain issue in more detail), with the essential reading being compulsory for the seminar.

The format of the seminars is tutor-led class discussion but students are expected to take an active role by contributing to the discussion based upon the reading material. For some seminars, the tutor may ask students to prepare a small presentation for some of the seminar questions but these presentations will be on a voluntary basis and decided in advance to allow the students time to prepare. Finally, the tutor will be make online resources availabe for students to read (or sometimes to watch or listen to) outside the classroom such as newspaper articles, videos, webcasts, podcasts, etc. These will be provided on the VLE on a regular basis and students are encouraged to make use of these extra materials to gain a better understanding and insights into the topics.

The assignment will consist of two discurisve questions, with students choosing one question only and submitting an essay in accordance with the regulations. Once the essay questions have been proved, the tutor will make them available on the VLE so that students can start to think about the question they wish to address and arguments they could explore. The tutor will emphasise key aspects of these questions towards the end of the teaching.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours140.00
Total Contact hours10.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

Pre-Seminar Work (directed reading and preparation of answers to questions on the same) = 8 x 5 = 40 hours.
Post-Seminar Work (reflection and consolidation) = 2 x 5 = 10 hours
Submissions for Formative Assignments (research and writing mini essays) = 15 x 2 = 30 hours
Submissions for Assessed Essay (research and writing essay) = 60 x 1 = 60 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- Seminar participation;
- Formative feedback: Students will have the chance to submit an outline of the Assignment and the tutor will provide written feedback in the last seminar;
- Final submission of essay.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 4,500 words100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 07/05/2014


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