Close to a year ago, one of my students from Copyright, Rachel DeLetto came to me with an idea for an independent study topic. She was precocious—one of a very small group of 2Ls who took Copyright in a room full of 3Ls—but she’d more than held her own, and now she wanted to delve more deeply into a copyright topic. Specifically, she was interested in Girl Talk’s remarkable mashups, and she wondered why the metaphorical copyright police hadn’t yet shut him down. That was the start of her project, which evolved into a copyright analysis of the substantial-similarity, licensing, and fair use issues large-scale mashups like Girl Talk’s raise.
I’ve had good and bad experiences supervising student papers; this was one of the best. Rachel dug in hard, several times expanding the project as she decided there were additional issues she needed to cover. She outlined carefully, gave me section drafts with reassuring regularity, and—those who have taught will recognize how rare this is—was able to edit and revise her work with a careful eye. To top it off, her writing style was both clear and lively; she cleanly analyzed the legal issues in a voice that was recognizably her own.
I mention all this because the paper has now been published in the New York State Bar Association’s triannual Entertainment, Arts, and Sports Law Journal. The final title is “Free Sampling: Why the Copyright Law’s Rigid Sampling Regime Is Incompatible with Contemporary Creativity,” and as you can see, the paper has grown beyond just Girl Talk. The best part about teaching is seeing students grow in knowledge and maturity, and eventually take wing, and Rachel’s road from the front row of my Copyright class to published, licensed lawyer is a great example of why I love this job.