Preparing for Your Copyright Final Exam

Columbia Copyright Advisory Office 2013-03-30

Of all the labels I might receive, the professional title I like best is “educator.” One of my goals in developing the website of the Copyright Advisory Office is to educate readers about copyright. I come from the school of thought that if you teach someone well, they will be equipped for the next challenge. So it is a special pleasure when someone finds immediate and real educational value in my work. Few educational experiences are as immediate as a law school exam.  Few classroom experiences are as real as a high grade in a law course.

I have to admit to some satisfaction when I received an email earlier this year from a law student. To be sure, she was a student at a law school where I have no particular connection. It was an email out of the blue. “I just wanted to send you a quick thank you,” she began, explaining that she was a third-year law student. She was courteous about her copyright professor, but we can safely say that she was not relating well to the professor’s style of teaching, and she was not getting a clear understanding of the structure and function of copyright. She continued:

“Anyway, I downloaded all of your lectures from iTunes U and listened to them intently from my iPhone—some two times. Your lectures explained the background I needed so that the cases I was reading . . . finally made sense. You are a skilled teacher and I really appreciate that you made these lectures available to the public. My copyright exam was yesterday and your lectures made all the difference in helping me succeed. I really, really appreciate it!”

She felt good after the final exam in December. The following February she had her grade, and we can say publicly that she was very, very happy. Today she has a nice position in an established law firm. At this point I feel a bit like an infomercial: "This is not an actor. Actual results may vary." That said, I love teaching. I am especially rewarded when I discover that I was teaching when I did not even know it. I hope my delight in teaching comes through in my classroom, in my writing, and in my conference talks. I am happy to make a series of 11 podcasts available to all. I welcome your comments.

Many thanks,

Kenneth Crews

December 8, 2011

I continue to thank Neil Wehneman for his graceful encouragement and his skill in producing the series.