nl en

US & International Copyright Law


Admission requirements



This course is designed to complement the course on Dutch & European copyright Law, and is open to students who are taking that course or have taken it in the past. The class will focus on United States copyright law, and how it compares and contrasts with the Dutch and continental authors’ rights systems. The class will be taught in English in nine sessions of two hours each. The class will begin with an overview of the common-law system and the underlying rationale and history of U.S. copyright protection. The class will examine the assumptions and policies underlying United States copyright law and compare them to those underlying continental European authors’ rights regimes. The class will then commence to examine the substantive United States copyright law, with particular emphasis on the limits on copyrightable subject matter (particularly the fixation and originality requirements and the idea/expression dichotomy), ownership of copyright, the exclusive rights of the copyright owner, and the limitations on those rights, including the Untied States’ “fair use” defense. With regard to each of these topics, the class will compare European authors’ rights doctrine. In discussing the exclusive rights of United States copyright owners, the class will pay particular attention to digital contexts.

Course objectives

Objectives of the course:
the course will provide an overview of United States copyright law and an appreciation of how it compares with civl-law authors’ rights systems. It will also expose students to the United States’ common-law system and the general rationales and policies that drive and shape the development of United States intellectual property law.

Achievement levels:
Students should

  • achieve a working knowledge of United States copyright law and its theoretical underpinnings

  • gain an appreciation of the differing policies and assumptions that shape the contours of United States and continental European copyright protection

  • be able to explain key differences between the two systems of authorship protection.


See: .

Mode of instruction


  • Number of (2 hour) seminars: 9

  • Names of instructors: Prof. Margreth Barrett

  • Required preparation by students:

Assessment method

Examination form(s)

  • There will be a written essay examination (in English) at the end of the class, which will constitute 70% of the grade. Students’ participation in class discussions will count as the other 30%.

Areas to be tested within the exam:
The examination will cover the required reading materials (consisting of case decisions and other literature to be provided by the instructor) and points brought out in the course of class discussion. Students should take notes during class discussion and study their notes, as well as the assigned reading materials, in preparation for the examination.


More information on this course is offered in “Blackboard”:

Reading list

Obligatory course materials

  • The required reading materials will consist of a series of United States copyright decisions and may include a few excerpts from published scholarly articles. These materials will be posted on Blackboard, along with a syllabus.


Students have to register for courses and exams through uSis.

Contact information

  • Coordinator: M.D.M. Dirven (Office for International Education)

  • Work address: KOG, Steenschuur 25

  • Contact information: room C0.03

  • Telephone number: 071-5277609

  • E-mail:


  • Institution:

  • Division:

  • Room number secretariat:

  • Opening hours:

  • Telephone number secretariat:

  • E-mail: