Intellectual Property and Copyright in the Electronic Age
Multimedia Writing and Technical Communication
Fall 2007

Barbara J. D'Angelo
Multimedia Writing & Technical Communication
Sutton 301P
Phone: 480-727-1160
Yahoo IM ID: barb_dangelo

Office Hours:

Mondays 10:00 - Noon
Thursdays 2:00 - 4:00

or by appointment

Course Description, Outcomes, and Objectives

This course explores issues related to copyright law and intellectual property. Topics covered will include the various laws and legal issues surrounding intellectual property in both the print and electronic environment, including patents, trademarks, and copyright; standards and guidelines for legal and ethical use of intellectual property; global issues surrounding intellectual property, including various cultural assumptions about the use of information.


Outcomes articulate the skills, abilities, and knowledge that students learn in the MWTC Program. If you are a TWC major, you will present examples of your work from the courses you have taken in your capstone portfolio to demonstrate your learning based on these outcomes. As you are taking courses, an understanding of the outcomes will help you in two ways: 1) it will help you understand how the various courses tie together and integrate work and experiences as part of a larger context and 2) it will help identify and select coursework that meets specific outcomes. In this course, the outcomes that are specifically addressed include:

Rhetorical Knowledge:

R1: Understand the role of a variety of technologies/media in accessing, retrieving, and communicating information

Critical Thinking, Reading, and Writing

CRW1: Use information, writing, and reading for inquiry, learning, thinking, and communicating

CRW2: Understand the relationships among language, knowledge, and power including social, cultural, historical, and economic issues related to information, writing, and technology

CRW3: Recognize, understand, and analyze the context within which language, information, and knowledge are produced, managed, organized, and disseminated

CRW4: Integrate previously held beliefs, assumptions, and knowledge with new information and the ideas of others to accomplish a specific purpose within a context

Knowledge of Conventions:

KC1: Learn and apply appropriate standards, laws, policies, and accepted practices for the use of a variety of technologies

KC2: Apply appropriate means of documenting their work

KC3: Understand and apply legal and ethical uses of information and technology including copyright and intellectual property

To meet these outcomes, on completion of this course, students will be able to:

Course Introduction

In today's electronic environment, intellectual property and copyright can be confusing and difficult to understand. Laws are in flux and constantly changing or being re-interpreted by the courts. Often it appears that technology makes copyright laws superfluous, irrelevant, and artificial. Corporations attempting to protect their intellectual property and profit from it may appear greedy. IP and copyright are inevitably linked to social and cultural perceptions about the ownership and sharing of information and about changing perspectives about the economic value of information. In the context of this course I am using the word information very broadly to include text (print and electronic), audio, video, images, etc.

This course will explore intellectual property and copyright, their history and origin, the laws created to protect them, and their impact. Although current trends and issues in copyright may be the most interesting topic to some of you, it is my belief that you cannot have a real or solid understanding of the issues without first understanding the history of copyright and how it works in the traditional print world. Current laws have evolved directly out of print copyright law and attempt to apply the principles of IP and copyright to electronic information. Without understanding the original intent and principles of copyright, perceptions of and interpretation of newer laws will be flawed and potentially misleading. It is also important to understand that copyright is just one aspect of intellectual property: licensing, patents, trademarks are all part of the intellectual property system. And while our focus may be on the United States, it is important to remember that intellectual property is viewed and governed very differently in other parts of the world.

Course Requirements

This is an online course. If you have never taken an online course, you may want to take the Online Learning Readiness Quiz to see if it's right for you. Read the Course Guidelines and Policies and review all information posted in Blackboard to be sure you understand what will be expected of you. All assignments are expected to be completed on time. Late assignments will not be accepted for any reason other than documented family or medical emergency. See course evaluation section below for information on grading and Blackboard for information on assignments and due dates. Readings and assignments are also posted on the Schedule.

Graduate Students: Students registered for graduate credit (TWC551) will complete an additional assignment.

Texts and Required Readings

Aoki, Keith; Boyle James; Jenkins, Jennifer. (2006) Bound by Law? Duke Center for the Study of the Public Domain. Digital versions available at no cost at: or purchase through Amazon for $5.95.

Burgunder, Lee (2007) Legal Aspects of Managing Technology, 4th edition. Mason, OH: West Legal Studies in Business. NOTE: Please be sure to purchase the 4th edition.

Additional readings and resources are posted in Blackboard.

Course Evaluation

+/- grades will not be used in this course

Details on readings and assignments are posted in the Schedule. This is a content-heavy course with a significant amount of reading. Each week there will be a short quiz based on the readings. You will also participate in class discussion via the Discussion Board.

Assignment Value
Confirmation email 5 pts
Quizzes (12 @ 5 pts each) 60 pts
Discussion Board posts (14 @ 4 pts each) 56 pts
Policies & Procedures assignment 80 pts

Scale Grade
181 to 201 pts A
161 to 183 pts B
141 to 160 pts C
121 to 140 pts D
0 to 120 pts E

Graduate Students (TWC551):

Assignment Value
Confirmation email 5 pts
Quizzes (12 @ 5 pts each) 60 pts
Discussion Board posts (14 @ 4 pts each) 56 pts
Policies & Procedures assignment 80 pts
Graduate assignment 55 pts

Scale Grade
230 to 256 pts A
205 to 229 pts B
179 to 204 pts C
154 to 180 pts D
0 to 153 pts E

Academic Integrity

As a student in this course you are expected to complete your own work, do your own writing, and to properly cite work of others. Please refer to the Student Academic Integrity Policy regarding students rights, responsibilities and obligations.

Students with Special Needs

If you have a documented disability that may impact on your ability to carry out assigned course work, I encourage you to contact Disability Student Resources (DRS).  Their phone number is (480) 965-1362 (voice) or (480) 965-9000 (TTY).  They can also be accessed on the web at

Last modified: 13 August 2007