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Exploring Copyright: History, Culture, Industry

Understand the importance of copyright and learn its history, from the Renaissance to the Internet, with this free online course.

15,030 enrolled on this course

Movable Type
  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Have you ever thought about how a composer or a writer makes a living? Or how they make money to live their daily lives, just like other people? This course will explore the process of creators becoming professionals: how a marketplace and an industry have grown thanks to inventions like the 15th century printing press.

You’ll learn that this process began with the idea that artistic work is the property of creators and how this idea inspired a new industry based on copyright. You’ll also explore the various aspects of this process - looking at how technological enhancement, creativity and the legal dimensions of copyright are all closely linked.

In the first week, you’ll contemplate the concept of a modern author connected by property rights to the works of art they create. We’ll look at how this connection evolved through time and how it was cemented in law.

Explore how the exchange of knowledge became global

In the second week, we will focus on the 19th century. We will examine the increase in international commerce and in turn the increase in the exchange of knowledge and of ideas about authors and their rights. We’ll look at how this resulted in an International Convention for the protection of Authors’ Rights and the principles and justifications of this newly created international law.

Learn how the World Wars affected War Years and Mass Communication

In the third week, we’ll move to the 20th century to face the big questions created by the World Wars. If the previous century saw increased cooperation for the exchange of knowledge and all kinds of intellectual goods, war showed the opposite. But at the same time the Industrial Revolution had introduced mechanical reproduction and the war efforts produced new technology like mass communication. This resulted in the start of art as industry - with new treaties and the recognition of rights to other individuals and companies, like performers, producers and broadcasters.

In the final week, we will talk about the new opportunities and challenges presented by digital technology. Never before have works protected by copyright had such a global reach and never before have creators had to deal with such a difficult equation regarding the value of their works. We’ll explore how the copyright industry finds itself in a reality where there is an unbalanced share of value between the creators of the work and the holders of the technology that make these works available globally.

By the end of the course, you will:

  • Be familiar with the concepts of copyright and authors’ rights
  • Be able to analyse further how copyright became a powerful tool in the marketplace for artistic work.
  • Build your understanding of the legal framework for the protection of creative work, comparing it to the common sense idea of artistic work as public good.
  • Propose methods to raise awareness of the legal protection system as an essential tool for building a fair trade market for creators.
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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds Creative industries are part of everyone’s life. We all listen to music, enjoy films, watch TV programs, go to the theatre and read books. The creators of these works produce the soundtrack for our lives My name is Jean-Michel Jarre. I am an artist, a performer and a creator. And I am here to invite you on a journey about creative industries and copyright. This course is all about the system of copyright and authors’ rights, and its importance to creative industries. Music, paintings, literature and audio-visual works are the substance of our culture and cultural heritage.

Skip to 0 minutes and 52 seconds Studies have shown the great economic importance that creative industries bring: they create jobs, and they support economic growth and development.

Skip to 1 minute and 2 seconds All of this depends on one key thing: copyright protection. Copyright is the cornerstone of creative industries. But what is the subject matter of copyright? What is protected exactly? How does copyright work? Why exactly do creative industries depend on copyright? As an artist, I’m deeply involved with technology and excited for our new digital world.

Skip to 1 minute and 30 seconds But, we have to ask: Who gave and still gives the fuel and the reason for this industry to exist and to grow so big? it is thanks to copyright and the legal framework that has been built over centuries. To discuss all these issues, I invite you to join us

Skip to 1 minute and 50 seconds for the course Exploring Copyright: History, Culture, Industry. I’m sure that all of those joining the course will be stimulated by the discussions we are inviting learners to participate in. I’m curious to learn about your conclusions.

What topics will you cover?

  • Key events in the development of the concept of authorship and the legal framework for the protection of intellectual work.
  • The impact of technology for the economic, political and social aspects of those key events.
  • The impact of technological progress and social changes on the perception of the importance of intellectual work.
  • The process of harmonisation of the guiding principles of national legislations for the protection of creators and artistic work.
  • The formation of associations through which creators fight for rights and build an operational structure to take care of these rights.
  • The internationalisation of the legal framework and the inauguration of the first multilateral agreements for the protection of intellectual work.
  • Technology, mass communication and Art as industry.
  • Changes in the international treaties to account for the technological development and its impact on creative activity.
  • Challenges for creators and other players in the creative industries, as well as for the legal framework, international and domestic, presented by digital technology and the new market arising from it.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Be familiar with the concepts of copyright and authors’ rights.
  • Understand how copyright became a powerful tool in the marketplace for artistic works.
  • Learn about the legal framework for the protection of creative works.
  • Raise awareness of the legal protection system as an essential tool for building a fair trade market for creators.

Who is the course for?

This is an introductory course open to anyone with an interest in history and copyright. It might also be of interest to anyone in the creative and cultural industries.

What do people say about this course?

"Thank you for providing an excellent course. I learned a lot and have a much clearer understanding of the main points surrounding copyright. I feel like I can better explain the history and progression of rights surrounding intellectual property and artistic works to others, and can apply this knowledge to my work as a songwriter and publisher."

"Thank you for a fascinating and very informative course. I have a mountain of new knowledge and, due to the additional links, access to a mountain more (...). Many, many thanks, most enjoyable."

Who will you learn with?

I worked as a musician and music teacher. I became a lawyer in copyrights. I did a Doctorate in International Relations and worked as CEO in a composer’s association. Now I’m an educator again.

Ben is an instructor in Global Entertainment and Music Business at the Valencia Campus of Berklee College of Music.

Who developed the course?

International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC)

CISAC, the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers, is the world’s leading network of authors’ societies.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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