Course Information

Course Number




Musicial Composition, Borrowing and the Law; From Mahler to Mashups

This seminar will bring together law students with graduate-level composers and musicologists to investigate how copyright law shapes the conditions of creativity in music and how changes in musical style in turn influence the limits that the law sets on musical creation. There is a rich musicological literature on types of borrowing and the ways they are exhibited in musical genres ranging from classical music, to the blues, jazz, rock and hip-hop sampling. From the legal side, there are fascinating cases that run from the birth of music publishing to contemporary controversies over digital mashups, dealing with claims of infringement and the boundaries of fair use. This class would bring the two together - having law students analyze and music students taxonomize and even compose pieces of music that bring out the themes of the course.

The seminar is cross-listed between the law school and music department. Assignments will include both musicological and legal readings, as well as audio analysis. Teams of law and music students will conduct collaborative case studies, and students will also be responsible for a final paper or, in the case of composition students, a major composition. Because law and music students will be working together, no prior musical knowledge is necessary for law students, and no prior legal knowledge is necessary for music students.

Please note that course organization and content may vary substantially from semester to semester and descriptions are not necessarily professor specific. Please contact the instructor directly if you have particular course-related questions.

Prerequisite Information

Pre- or co-requisite for law students only: Intellectual Property, Copyright, or Intellectual Property, the Public Domain and Free Speech.


James Boyle, Jennifer Jenkins
Musicial Composition, Borrowing and the Law; From Mahler to Mashups 578.01
Fall 2007
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