LLM Specialisms 2012/13

Intellectual Property Law


[please note: links below are to the 2011/12 course guides; they will be updated when new guides are made available during the summer vacation]


In recognition of the emergence of Intellectual Property Law as an important but controversial policy instrument and a major focus of academic inquiry, the LSE Law Department has now greatly expanded its LLM programme in this area. The Department has assembled a team of leading specialist researchers offering courses in each of the three major IP sub-areas of copyright, patents and trade marks, as well as a menu of related options focusing on media law and regulation, information technology law and regulation, cultural property, and the 'global bio-economies' in which some types of intellectual property right now function. Together, these courses present a rich variety of perspectives on the intellectual property system: they impart a sophisticated understanding of the law relating to patents, copyright and trademarks; they explore the factors responsible for the continuing rapid expansion of each of these regimes of rights; they reveal the processes by which economic, cultural, political and technological pressures for change in the area of intellectual property law become translated into legal initiatives; and they critically analyse the theoretical frameworks that have been used to justify or explain the imposition of proprietary structures (alongside other regulatory systems) within the fields of knowledge, culture and innovation. Together with colleagues in other Departments and research institutes (notably the Department of Media and Communications, BIOS and DESTIN), the teachers of this group of courses routinely engage in and facilitate interdisciplinary work relevant to intellectual property law. The stimulating environment generated by these links is further enriched by a network of distinguished visitors offering occasional lectures and seminars on current issues and debates in IP law, theory and policy.

Copyright and Related Rights (LL403): the law of copyright and related rights in the UK, analysed in the context of the history of the institution of copyright; arguments for and against the expansion of copyright; copyright's role in UK cultural policy; its relationship with technologies, institutions and investment strategies that sustain the global culture industries.

Cultural Property and Heritage Law (LL4D3): looks at the emerging areas of cultural property and heritage law from legal, historical, and social-theoretical perspectives.

Current Issues in Intellectual and Cultural Property Law (LL4C8): this course takes a broadly historical, theoretical and contextual approach to the study of intellectual and cultural property law.

Cyberlaw (H) (LL4S1): this course examines and discusses topical issues in relation to the law of the internet and other digital information devices (Smartphones, Tablets etc.). It opens by examining the issues relating to network regulation or control by addressing questions such as “can the internet be regulated?” and “who is competent to police online content and activity?” It concludes its examination of structural controls by examining the highly topical and politically charged issue of enshrined network neutrality: by asking the question: should Internet Service Providers be allowed to vary service conditions by types of content? Students taking the course will be expected to develop knowledge and understanding of the different values brought to bear in the regulation of ICT and communities and the factors leading towards choices of particular values, regulatory institutions and process. Such knowledge and understanding will operate both at the theoretical level and the level of particular examples of regulatory regimes.

Innovation, Technology and Patent Law (LL4C1): this course critically examines UK and European patent law from different perspectives including the economic case for incentivising innovation, industry and technological-specificity of legal doctrine, international economic and political frameworks, institutional features, and legal developments in the domestic laws of other countries as well as at regional and international levels. Case studies from comparable jurisdictions such as US, India or Latin America will be used where appropriate.

Introduction to Regulation (H) (LL406): key topics in the study of regulation from a comparative and generic perspective with examples drawn from public administration, socio-legal studies and institutional economics.

Media and Communications Regulation (H) (LL407): a comparative and generic introduction to key issues in the regulation of media and communications, focusing on economic and content regulation of print media, broadcasting, postal and telecommunications services and the internet, and including coverage of problems relating to the convergence of media and communications.

Media Law: Regulating Publication (H) (LL4H2): the course examines the legal and administrative regulation of mass media publication. The course first considers a number of general themes: the role(s) of the media in society (including conceptions of the ‘public interest’); the main social, technological and regulatory influences that shape media publication practise, and rights jurisprudence (in particular, media freedom in national and international law). It then examines restrictions on publication aimed at protecting specific private interests (eg reputation; privacy) and/or public interests (eg integrity of the legal process; political impartiality; avoidance of offence; national security).

Media Law: Regulating Newsgathering (H) (LL4H3): this course examines the legal and administrative regulation of newsgathering and content production practices undertaken by journalists and others working in the media sector. The course first considers a number of general themes: the role(s) of the media in society (including conceptions of the ‘public interest’); the main social, technological and regulatory influences that shape newsgathering practise, and rights jurisprudence. It then examines the regulation of specific newsgathering practices (eg access to information held by the state; protection of sources; harassment and media intrusion; entrapment; interference with witnesses (‘cheque-book journalism’); media-police interaction; surreptitious newsgathering practices.

Piracy, Content and Ownership in the Information Society (H (LL4S5): one of the most contentious and complex areas of online activity is the conflict between content providers and consumers. Providers spend considerable amounts on developing and delivering a variety of content, including entertainment content, branded content and business content. Consumers often erroneously, feel “information ought to be free” and take content without payment, an activity known as piracy. This is an embedded schism in internet society and this course will examine key flashpoints including: proprietary vs. open software; file sharing and aggregation; trade mark disputes including ADR for domain name disputes; software patents and the database right. At the end of the class students should have a valuable insight to, and understanding of, the legal foundations of these disputes and the attempts of regulators to broker a resolution. This class will take a critical approach to both the problem and the proposed legal/regulatory solutions.  [not offered 2012/13]

Regulation: Legal and Political Aspects (LL446): theories and case studies of regulation encountered in public policy, administration, legal literature, examining the origins, development and reform of regulation; the styles and processes of regulation; the issues surrounding enforcement; the inter-organizational and international aspects of regulation; and questions of evaluation and accountability. 

Trademark Law (LL4D1): examines key issues in the UK law of trademarks in relation to broader European and global developments and in light of the tension between the continuing rapid expansion of the coverage of the trademark system and the apparent fragility of the justificatory basis for this form of IP protection.


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