Intellectual Property: Issues and Policies

A. Title

We’re starting with the generic topic of Intellectual Property. My assumption is that we will find that there’s a better title for the study after we talk. Or maybe not! Still, the title is open for discussion for each of you.

B. Learning Activities:

You will first read an appropriate text based on the answers to the many questions that I asked. This is generally something that I choose for you. At the moment, I’m leaning toward James Boyle’s The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind. This book is available for purchase in the usual ways or you can find it here:

As you work through this text, you will make note of particular issues that you would like to explore in more depth and record your findings in your learning journal.

After you finish the text (this should take about 4 weeks), you will write a brief paper in which you (1) describe the key concepts for analyzing intellectual property issues as well as initial criteria for evaluating policies and (2) describe five (5) issues.

We will then have a conversation about these issues; during the conversation, we will select three (3) of these issues for you to research in more depth.

You will work through <> to extend your research skills if necessary. For each issue, you will prepare an “policy paper” using “Writing the Policy Paper” by Mendelsohn, <>. Each issue paper will show an increasingly sophisticated understanding of the effects of changing technologies on various aspects of society as well as increasingly sophisticated research and writing skills.

This study will be supported by an online space in Moodle as well as links to current events in my Pinboard bookmark collection:

C. Methods and Criteria for Evaluation:

Your written work, web and email communications, and telephone (or face-to-face) conversations are the instruments for evaluation. In all of these, you will show that you understand multiple perspectives of the important issues, that you have applied appropriate analytical concepts and worked through to reasonable conclusions, that you have reflected on what you learned, that your conclusions are consistent with your evidence, and that you have integrated the whole both within this contract and with your previous learning and experience. All of this work will show advanced level research and writing skills; sources will be appropriate to your needs and properly cited. Finally, by the end of this study, your work will show that you have both developed good criteria for evaluating policies related to intellectual property and that you have used them well to evaluate your proposed policies.