One group that took up this challenge (at the urging of another Harvard Law professor) was based in Jamaica and led by Sarah Hsia Hall, a Harvard Law graduate. This group aimed to explore a simple question: “How can we shape copyright law in a way that enables us to better mobilize our creative content?” Jamaica has a remarkably high debt-per-capita ratio, but it also has Jimmy Cliff, Toots and the Maytals, and Bob Marley.
“Copyright mobilizes creative content, and creative content is what Jamaica does best,” says Hall.
Like the enrolled CopyrightX students, Hall’s group watched Fisher’s lectures each week and met in a small group. “I would edit the reading for length because my crew was not a set of hard-core academics,” she said. When she could, she used examples from Jamaica of the issues they were discussing. Her class included law students, one of Jamaica’s biggest music producers, the head of the country’s IP office, a high-ranking judge, an art critics, a visual artist, a prolific reggae writer and singer, and a record distributor and house music producer. Copyright discussions can get rowdy, and with such a diverse group of students with strong opinions, there was always some discord in the discussions, Hall said.
“They were hearing perspectives that they’d never heard before,” she says. “The judge would say these things and the whole class was like ‘What??’ But it was great because they got to see what the practical judicial perspective is versus the creative perspective.”
Although, in the lectures, Fisher presents various ways of understanding the law, he, too, has a perspective, on how both copyright and legal online education should work. To get a better sense of his view on copyright, check out Lecture 10 from CopyrightX. To get a better sense of his view on online legal education, consider applying for the class next year, when it will be offered again.
“The goal is to create, in an online setting, the kind of supervised discussions—discussions moderated by people who know the subject—that grip people and direct them along paths that are enlightening. It’s that combination that creates value,” Fisher says. “My goal is to make that value available widely, without charging.”
Disclosure: CJR has received funding from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to cover intellectual-property issues, but the organization has no influence on the content.