Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Copyright In The Digital Environment LAW5013

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Law
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

The principal aim of the course is to offer an advanced understanding of Copyright Law issues relevant to the creation, dissemination, and use of cultural goods within the digital environment. The focus will be primarily on copyright law in the United Kingdom and Europe. The course will also situate the domestic and European focus within an international context.


The course will investigate (1) Subject Matter, Authorship and Ownership, (2) Exclusive Rights, Infringement and Defences, and (3) Remedies and Exploitation. In particular, the course seeks to differentiate between approaches taken to copyright protection in the pre-digital era, and the adaptation and development of those existing norms to the digital environment.


Students will be expected to develop their own research on issues such as originality, moral rights, orphan works, collecting societies, hyperlinking, exceptions, contracts and technological protection measures, content ID and filters, the public domain.


10 x 2 hour seminars in semester 1.

Requirements of Entry

The course is open to all LLM students subject to the requirements of the LLM programme on which a student is enrolled.

Excluded Courses

LAW5034 Intellectual Property and the Market 




This course is assessed by way of continuous assessment, with students completing two pieces of work. The first (30%) consists of a digital artefact. The second (70%) consists of an essay of 3500 - 4000 words on a research topic determined by the student in consultation with the course convenor, and drawing upon the substantive material covered throughout the course. Each student will be required to give a short presentation on their research proposal to the rest of the class. This presentation will not be summatively assessed, but each student will receive formative feedback upon their research presentation. This feedback will assist students in the completion of their second summative essay.

Course Aims

The principal aim of the course is to promote familiarity and understanding of copyright law issues relevant to the creation, dissemination, and use of cultural goods within the digital environment. The focus will be primarily on copyright law in Europe (primarily the EU), however the course will also situate that domestic and European focus within the global context of developments in copyright.


This course aims to:


■ Improve understanding of the relationships between copyright law and the creative economy;

■ Develop the analytical and critical skills of students by detailed examination of the relevant legislation, conventions and cases governing copyright in the digital environment;

■ Develop the oral communication skills of students through the use of both staff-led and student-led seminars;

■ Provide students with an understanding of some of the practical applications of copyright law in the digital environment;

■ Foster critical understanding and evaluation of areas of controversy and current copyright debates;

■ Encourage independent learning.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


1. Identify and critically assess the various potential aims of copyright law as they relate to the digital creative economy;

2. Research and formulate assertions about new developments in this area of law;

3. Differentiate between approaches taken to copyright protection within the pre-digital era, and the adaptation and development of those existing norms within the digital environment;

4. Evaluate and criticise constructively these approaches, and their limitations, with reference to the aims of copyright protection and the interests of copyright users;

5. Apply knowledge of copyright law and its aims to construct a coherent argument in discussion of topics arising from its application to the digital environment.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course summative assessment.