Liberal Arts and Management Program | Pirates of the 21st Century (Intellectual Property Law & Strategy in a Global
L416 | 8938 | Tim Lemper


In centuries past, “pirates” were daring free spirits who lived by
their own code, flaunted the law, and evaded capture to plunder
others’ treasure on the high seas, beyond the grasp of legal
authorities.  Today's pirates are different in many ways:  They
exploit intangible rather than tangible property, using counterfeits
and computers instead of swords and ships, and evade detection in
black markets, gray markets, and cyberspace rather than on the high
seas.  In some ways, however, today’s pirates are similar to those
swashbuckling outlaws.  By testing—and exceeding—the limits of the
law, they both challenge and define the boundary between fair and
unfair competition, driving an ongoing dialogue about the
fundamental relationship between competition, creativity, liberty,
and property.

This course explores the piracy of intellectual property in the
modern era and its implications for these broader issues.  It
surveys the basic framework of legal protection for intellectual
property in U.S. and international law on unfair competition.  It
examines countervailing legal protections for competition, free
trade, free speech, and free expression that limit the protection of
intellectual property and help define the boundary between fair and
unfair competition in the U.S. and abroad.  Based on this legal
framework, it engages students in a discussion about strategies—for
pirates and property owners alike—for exploiting intellectual
property.

Course materials are drawn from diverse sources, including
historical and legal books and articles, news reports on
contemporary events and issues, and illustrative examples drawn from
various types of media.  Students engage in intensive writing
assignments, collaborative group projects, and classroom
discussion.  Pirate speech, attire, and behavior are encouraged
(within the bounds of the law and IU policy).