Very rough draft of a syllabus for a student run class on free culture

Alright folks, this is wayyy ambitious, but I’m going to try to put together a student-run class for next semester. I’m working on a syllabus to shop around to professors who may be interested in helping me out, and I want to get your opinions on this early (and informal) draft. Please comment! Would you be interested in taking this class? How can it be improved? Remember, there are 13 weeks in the semester, should I try to have 13 lesson plans? UPDATE: There are actually 14 weeks, but it’s good to leave flex time, so 13 plans is fine for now.

=The Free Culture Movement: A Historical, Legal, Political, and Technical Perspective=
(Ok, the title needs work… suggestions?)

Each class will begin with a short lecture by myself (perhaps supplemented or replaced by a guest speaker at times?), and will end with a more participatory group presentation.

==Week One==
Oral Culture: creativity and communication before recordings or copyright.
* Folk music (Kembrew McLeod) and mythology
* How has technology changed/improved communication?
* What motivated creativity before there were IP laws?

==Week Two==
Print Culture: the beginnings of mass communication, censorship and copyright
* Thomas Paine and pamphleteers
* How did print culture function before copyright? Shakespeare’s plays?
* Publishers, authors, and kings: early copyright/censorship

==Week Three==
Copyright comes to the US: Monopoly or Property Right?
* The Constitution/Progress Clause and origins of copyright in US Law
* Thomas Jefferson v. Mark Twain (Siva Vaidhyanathan: Copyrights and Copywrongs)

==Week Four==
Pirate Industries: new technologies threaten the status quo, calls for changes in IP law
* Photography
* Recordings/Radio
* Betamax

==Week Five==
The Content Industry Victorious: Hollywood gets what it wants, AKA a one-sided debate, until the stirrings of the free culture movement
* Copyright expansion
* The DMCA
* Sampling gets crushed, illegal art
* Database protection in Europe

==Week Six==
The Beginnings of a Movement: free software, the internet and digital technology produce public interest advocates
* GNU/Linux
* Lessig and predecessors, e.g. James Boyle

==Week Seven==
The Read/Write Web: the internet gets popularized, new technology enables participation on an unprecedented scale
* Blogs / citizen journalism (Cluetrain, We The Media)
* Wikis / Wikipedia
* Smart mobs

==Week Eight==
The Movement Today: Who are the major players? What political forces are at work, what are they up to, what is in the pipeline?
* Creative Commons, Public Knowledge, Downhill Battle, CDT, and all the other non-profits
* Businesses supportive of free culture, e.g. Google
* Businesses and other entities opposed to free culture, e.g. RIAA/MPAA

(Now we’re done with history, let’s poke around different areas of the law…)

==Week Nine==
Patents: Biology, software, business methods… where does it end?
* James Boyle: Shamans, software, and spleens
* EFF’s patent-busting project

==Week Ten==
Trademarks AND Trade Secrets: they’re not related, but we’re running out of time and they don’t merit separate classes

==Week Eleven==
EULAs and DRM/Trusted Computing: Logically connected

==Week Twelve==
Spectrum policy, who owns the pipes? What is a common carrier? Can we decentralize and de-regulate?

==Week Thirteen==
Who owns your data: privacy and participation, how does surveillance suppress speech and action?

(Any suggestions for readings/content for any of the less densely populated weeks would be much appreciated)

5 thoughts on “Very rough draft of a syllabus for a student run class on free culture

  1. Yeah, at Swarthmore we can get credit for student run classes, so long as we have the backing/coaching of a prof. It’s pretty awesome.

    • A bunch of frosh said they were… I’m sure I’ll have like 4 or 5 free culture members if nothing else 😛 Warning: the syllabus and format of the class may change drastically before the final version.

  2. Ooh!

    Week Thirteen immediately sent up Bruce Schneier flags in my mind–he’s written some intelligent stuff about the relationship between technology and privacy…

    But yeah. ‘Tis an awesome idea. I’d love to get a copy of the final syllabus, whenever that comes out–it would help me with putting a possible IP independent study together…

  3. I’d take it *grins* Is there a reason there were details for first 9, and none after that? Would there be tests? Required/recommended reading? Powerpoint slides?

    Ahh, the classroom. A marvelous place.

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