Entertainment/Copyright Law

LAW 734, 1  --  Spring 2006  --  3 Credits
Mon. 6:20-7:45 p.m. & Wed. 8:00-9:25 p.m.
206 Library Building, HARRISBURG

WILLIAM MARTIN SLOANE, Adjunct Professor of Law

[email protected] - (717) 249-1069

This page is accessible also through

University of Texas

For the latest legal news, see

University of Pittsburgh

Copyright Law:  U.S. Office | Stanford | U. Texas  ||  Entertainment Law:  Cardozo | Hastings | UCLA

BOOK:  Melville B. Nimmer et al., Cases & Materials on Copyright & Other Aspects of Entertainment Litigation Including Unfair Competition, Defamation, Privacy, 6th edn. (LexisNexis, 2000).

"The TV business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs.  There's also a negative side."


--Hunter S. Thompson


DATE (2006)
Mon. 9 January
v-xii & 1-41 The Subject Matter of Copyright
Wed. 11 January
41-86 "
Mon. 16 January
. . . . . .
Wed. 18 January
86-128 "
Mon. 23 January
129-174 Publication
Wed. 25 January
174-216 Formalities
Mon. 30 January
216-263 The Nature of Rights Protected by Copyright
Wed. 1 February
263-303 The Duration of Copyright
Mon. 6 February
304-347 "
Wed. 8 February
349-393 Transfers of Copyright
Mon. 13 February
393-437 Infringement Actions
Wed. 15 February
438-481 "
Mon. 20 February
481-530 "
Wed. 22 February
530-581 Copyright Remedies
Mon. 27 February
581-614 Federal Preemption of State Law
Wed. 1 March
614-660 Authors' Moral Rights
Mon. 6 March
. . . . . .
Wed. 8 March
. . . . . .
Mon. 13 March
661-705 Unfair Competition
Wed. 15 March
705-748 The Protection of Ideas by Express or Implied Contract
Mon. 20 March
749-798 Defamation
Wed. 22 March
798-838 "
Mon. 27 March
838-879 "
Wed. 29 March
879-923 Right of Privacy--Public Disclosure of Private Facts
Mon. 3 April
924-967 "
Wed. 5 April
. . . . . .
Mon. 10 April
967-1012 "
Wed. 12 April
1012-1066 Right of Privacy--False Light
Mon. 17 April
1066-1101 Right of Publicity
Wed. 19 April
1101-1144 "
Mon. 24 April
950-990 "
Wed. 26 April
990-1022 "
5 May

DESCRIPTION:  This course covers aspects of entertainment litigation, beginning with copyright (what is copyrightable, how to copyright, rights and duration, transfer of copyrights, and infringements and remedies).  Other topics include authors' moral rights, unfair competition, and contractual protection of ideas.  Major emphasis is placed on the torts of defamation and invasion of privacy (appropriation, false light, intrusion, private facts, and right of publicity) and the applicability of the First Amendment to each of the topics covered in the course.

REQUIREMENTS:  (1)  Students should read the cases and statutes in the book according to the above schedule and should be prepared to recite oral briefs and answer questions in class.  As time permits, students are encouraged to read the other textual material as well.  (2)  Students should check the course TWEN page periodically for announcements and other information posted by the instructor or by other students.  (3)  Students will take a traditional, in-class, closed-book final examination consisting of four essay questions, each weighted equally.  The questions will be based on issues raised in the casebook and/or supplement and/or class discussion.

ATTENDANCE:  The ABA and Widener University policy is that students must attend at least 80% of all classes without exception.  No excuses can be accepted for failing to meet this residency requirement.  This means that every student must attend a minimum of 22.0 classes.  Any student who is absent for 6.1 or more classes will receive a course grade of "W" (Withdrawal); the instructor will endeavor, but does not guarantee, to notify students who are approaching this limit.  Arriving late or leaving early is counted as a partial absence.  A student who misses the roll call at the beginning of class is irrebuttably presumed to be absent unless he/she makes his/her presence known to the instructor immediately after class.

COMMUNICATION:  Students are encouraged to contact the instructor at any time, either privately via email or phone, or publicly via the TWEN bulletin board for the course.  Individual meetings can be arranged at a mutually convenient time and place.

GRADING:  The course grade will be determined by the grade received on the final examination, which may be raised or lowered by one grade (e.g., from B+ to A-, or from C to C-) on the basis of the student's class participation.  The instructor will be available over the summer to review the final exams with any student who is interested and to suggest means for improvement in writing successful essay answers.



After New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964)

After Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc. (1974)

After Dun & Bradstreet v. Greenmoss Builders (1985)

After Philadelphia Newspapers v. Hepps (1986)


At least negligence

At least negligence

At least negligence

At least negligence

At least negligence


Strict liability

Strict liability, but must actually identify

Strict liability, but must actually identify

Strict liability, but must actually identify

Strict liability, but must actually identify


Strict liability

Strict liability

Strict liability, but P who cannot prove actual malice (as to falsity) must prove actual injury

Strict liability, but P who cannot prove actual malice (as to falsity) must prove actual injury

Strict liability, but P who cannot prove actual malice (as to falsity) must prove actual injury


Strict liability, with burden on D to prove truth

Strict liability, with burden on D to prove truth; but if P is a public official being criticized for performance of official duties, then P must prove actual malice

(Topic is of public concern):  At least negligence, with burden on D to prove truth; if P is seeking presumed or punitive damages, or if P is a public figure seeking ANY damages, then P must prove actual malice

(Topic is of private concern):  Same as before, but as long as P is a private figure, then negligence is sufficient to receive presumed or punitive damages

If there is a media D and the topic is of public concern, then P (public or private figure) must prove falsity



1992 by
Wm. Martin Sloane