CopyrightX at Harvard – an introduction!

I’m so excited to announce that I’ve been selected for CopyrightX, a programme run by Harvard Law School and Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. For 12 weeks (late January – April) I’ll be exploring the current law of copyright, and the impact of that law on art, entertainment, and industry. I’ll also be sharing my thoughts on my coursework here on, under the #CopyrightX tag!

My successful application essay

My name is Kelsey Farish, and I am a media and technology solicitor based in London, England. Prior to becoming a lawyer, I earned my masters’ degree in European Union (EU) government and politics at the London School of Economics. While travelling in Berlin, I attempted to view a certain YouTube video I had originally seen in the UK, only to discover that it was blocked by the German copyright collecting society. I then realised that despite the seemingly borderless nature of the internet, intellectual property law – even within the EU – was far from harmonised. This inspired my thesis, “MP3s Crossing a Borderless Europe”, in which I explored the dynamic factors which influence the regulation of digital media. After interviewing in-house counsel at Universal Music and Spotify as part of my research, I decided to become a media lawyer myself.

Now, eight years later, I am a proud advocate for creators, innovators, and performers. I am a member of Women in Film & TV (UK), and especially enjoy drafting and negotiating contracts between individual artists and entrepreneurs on the one hand, and corporates and brands on the other. If selected for CopyrightX, I would be delighted to contribute insights from my practical and commercial experience. Although I practice English law, I am originally from Seattle and recently sat the California Bar exam: I have a good understanding of U.S. copyright law and would be keen to learn more from those with American legal backgrounds.

In addition to my private practice work, I have an academic specialism in synthetic media, expression, and online content moderation. My paper, “Do deepfakes pose a golden opportunity? Considering whether English law should adopt California’s publicity right in the age of the deepfake” was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice (JIPLP) from Oxford University Press. I have also authored the practitioners’ guidance on deepfakes for LexisNexis (UK).

This summer, I was commissioned to write a paper on personality (image) rights for the European Audiovisual Observatory, the EU institute which provides analytical information on the film, TV, and new media sectors for stakeholders in public policy and industry. The paper focused on the opportunities and challenges posed by artificial intelligence, and included a comparative review of relevant laws in Germany, France, Sweden, the UK, and California. That CopyrightX is based out of Harvard and attracts diverse, inquiring minds from around the world is one of the many reasons I would love to participate in this course.

Especially in light of the exceptional role that social media and Big Tech plays in our daily lives, understanding copyright law from a variety of perspectives is increasingly important. This includes, by way of example, the complexities of online intermediary liability as typified by s. 230 of the Communications Decency Act. I actively seek out opportunities to discuss and debate the theories and social customs which shape the law, and would consider it a privilege to engage in a community of inquiry about these important topics.

I am like, so excited for this!

Topics and case law

  • WEEK 1: Foundations. 17 U.S.C. 102(a), Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Telephone Service Co. (1991), and Mannion v. Coors Brewing Co. (2005)
  • WEEK 2: Fairness & Personality Theories. Turner Entertainment Co. v. Huston, Court of Appeal of Versailles, France (1994)
  • WEEK 3: Subject Matter of Copyright. DC Comics v Towle (2015) and Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands (2017)
  • WEEK 4: Welfare Theory. Oracle v. Google (2014)
  • WEEK 5: Authorship. 17 U.S.C. 201, Lindsay v, The Wrecked and Abandoned Vessel R.M.S. Titanic (1999), and Aalmuhammed v. Lee (1999)
  • WEEK 6: The Mechanics of Copyright. Stewart v. Abend (1990), and Eldred v. Ashcroft (2003)
  • WEEK 7: Rights to Reproduce and Modify. 17 U.S.C. 106, Steinberg v. Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. (1987), Rentmeester v. Nike, Inc. (2018), and Mannion v. Coors Brewing Co. (2005)
  • WEEK 8: Rights to Distribute, Perform and Display. Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons (2013), and American Broadcasting Companies v. Aereo, Inc. (2014)
  • WEEK 9: Fair Use and Misuse. 17 U.S.C. 107, Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. (1994), Cariou v. Prince, (2013), Authors Guild v. Google (2015), and Oracle v. Google (2018)
  • WEEK 10: Cultural Theory. 17 U.S.C. 106A, and The Puzzle of Traditional Knowledge by Prof. W. Fisher (2018)
  • WEEK 11: Secondary Liability and Para-Copyright. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. v. Grokster (2005), and Viacom v. YouTube (2012)
  • WEEK 12: Remedies. 17 U.S.C. 501502503506, Salinger v. Colting (2010) and United States v. Moran (1991)

Featured photo by Ståle Grut via Unsplash