Copyright Law


Authored by Allen Bargfrede


Course Code: OMBUS-385

Next term starts January 13, 2020

Level 3

Level 3

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


Consumers are interacting with more music now than anytime in the past. Everything from interactive streaming sites, non-interactive sites, permanent download services, and music in video games, TV, and film are now vital revenue streams for musicians. All of these services also rely on the fundamental principles of copyright to effectively compensate musicians. Every musician, author, filmmaker, or other creator needs to understand the basics of how their creative works are protected by copyright law, and what rights they have as a content owner.

Read More

Copyright Law teaches the basics of copyright and what it protects, and provides students with an understanding of how to both monetize and protect their works from unauthorized exploitation. The course is taught through an analysis of real-world cases decided by courts, and study of copyright law as passed by the United States Congress. Topics include the six exclusive rights of copyright owners, how to register a copyright, the duration of copyright protection, tests for infringement liability, remedies available to those whose works are infringed, and the "fair use" defense. The course also explores compulsory royalty rates for technologies such as interactive streaming, high-profile new media court cases, such as Napster and Grokster, and international treaties to protect works overseas.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Read and understand a court case
  • Understand the history and applicability of copyright to all creative works, with a specific emphasis on music
  • Explain copyright infringement and the penalties and defenses to it
  • Write an analysis of a case involving digital media and copyright
  • Protect your own works from unauthorized exploitation
Read Less
Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors
Request Info


Lesson 1: Historical Perspective of Copyright

  • History of the Music Industry
  • Statute of Anne, Development of Copyright
  • Current U.S. Law
  • Courts and Understanding the Law
  • Briefing a Case

Lesson 2: Copyrightable Subject Matter

  • Music and Copyright
  • Mechanical Licensing
  • Idea/Expression Dichotomy
  • Intellectual Property Rights
  • What Is Copyrightable?

Lesson 3: Copyrightable Subject Matter, Derivative Works

  • Derivative Works
  • Computer Software
  • Pictorial, Graphic, and Sculptural Works, Characters
  • Mashups, Sampling
  • Copyright Infringement

Lesson 4: Transfer, Works-for-Hire, Duration of Copyright Protection

  • Transfer of Rights
  • Works-for-Hire
  • Duration of Copyright Protection, Joint Works
  • Copyright Terms
  • Termination of Transfer
  • Length of Copyright Protection

Lesson 5: Notice and Registration Requirements, Copying, Infringement

  • Notice
  • Deposit and Registration
  • Copies
  • Copyright Registration

Lesson 6: Distribution and Public Performance

  • Public Performance
  • Technology and Public Performance
  • Performing Rights Organizations
  • Ocasek v. Hegglund
  • Right of Public Display
  • Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act/Sound Exchange
  • Distribution
  • Right of Sound Recordings

Lesson 7: Fair Use

  • Fair Use in Copyright Law
  • Acuff-Rose v. Luke Skyywalker Records
  • Fair Use in Shepard Fairey Case
  • Case Study
  • Fair Use with New Technologies
  • Sega v. Accolade

Lesson 8: Fair Use, Enforcement/Remedies

  • Time Shifting
  • Injunctive Relief
  • Civil Remedies and Statutory Damages
  • Criminal Penalties

Lesson 9: Vicarious Infringement/Digital Millennium Copyright Act

  • Vicarious Infringement
  • Digital Millennium Copyright Act/DMCA Safe Harbor Provision
  • Protection Against Circumventions

Lesson 10: Digital Millennium Copyright Act/Gaps in Copyright

  • DMCA-Covered Radio
  • Copyright Royalty Board
  • Section 115 Reform
  • Other Gaps in Copyright Law

Lesson 11: User-Generated Content and Federal Preemption

  • User-Generated Content Sites and Their Legality
  • Federal Preemption of State Law
  • International/Berne Convention

Lesson 12: International Consideration

  • Moral Rights
  • International Best Practices
  • European Commission Edict on Pan-European Licensing
  • Three Strikes/Piracy Prevention


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Completion of Music Business 101 or equivalent knowledge and/or experience.

Required Textbook(s)

After enrolling, please check the Getting Started section of your course for potential deals on required materials. Our Student Deals page also features several discounts you can take advantage of as a current student. Please contact for any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in live chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of  Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software (available in the course when joining your first chat)
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal Microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection



Author & Instructor

Allen Bargfrede is an entertainment attorney and strategist who focuses his work on the intersection of art and technology. He is co-founder and Chief Legal Officer of Dot Blockchain Media, a firm focused on the use of blockchain technology to solve music data rights problems, and a Managing Director at Avance, an entertainment strategy firm. Allen’s past experience includes leading Berklee's Rethink Music thinktank and the graduate music business program at Berklee’s campus in Valencia, Spain, as well as owning an artist management firm and record label early in his career.


Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at

We can also answer basic questions in the comments below. Please note that all comments are public.


Get Info