Final Exam Fun

Every semester, I post my final exams once grading is done. They’re accessible from the individual course webpages, along with memos that discuss the issues raised in the exams and possible answers. I haven’t publicized this much in the past, but it occurred to me recently that some of you might find them interesting, or perhaps even entertaining.

This semester, my Property exam featured an Arrested Development theme, with a lot of shady real-estate deals and some catchphrase in-jokes. (As always, the theme is purely for flavor; knowledge of Arrested Development may make the problems more fun, but doesn’t help in answering them.) I experimented this year with more but shorter questions and stricter word limits, and I’m inclined to stick with it in the future. The focused questions did a better job of letting the first-year students focus on applying their legal knowledge without getting tripped up by a confusing mess of facts and parties in a time-limited exam.

My Internet Law exam was a take-home in an upper-level elective class, so it’s much, much harder. It’s always a challenge to come up with questions that mix and match the topics in new ways. On the one hand, I want to cover a wide enough range of issues; on the other, I want to retain a sense that the events described in a problem could actually happen. Fortunately, Internet law makes this relatively easy, because the same facts typically raise issues from all across the curriculum. This year, I had one question that uses anonymity as a window on police investigations, defamation, and copyright infringement; one that requires a deep dive on state power to prohibit obscene and indecent speech; and one that mashes open-source software and the DMCA’s anti-circumvention prohibitions together to see what results. The questions require some client counseling, too, and I was pleased with the creativity and thoughtfulness of the advice many of my students gave.

That said, Iif anyone has suggestions for how I can get across the message that the statutory text is more important than anything I say, I’m all ears …

From the Art and Artifice blog, in connection with the Origami plagiarism case:

In the Queen Mary, University of London, LLB Intellectual Property paper for 1987 the candidates were set a question which required them to consider whether a three-dimensional origami elephant was an infringement in the artistic copyright in a two-dimensional set of instructions for making it … The Examinations Department was charged with the responsibility of providing 40 pink origami elephants for the candidates plus three further elephants for the use of the external examiners.

Wonderful !

Ps What was the ‘finding’

  • It is a wonderful story.
  • The linked blog post explains that the proper test answer was “No”,
  • And goes on to explain that the applicable law was changed the year after the exam.

Ron I doubt , at the more traditional end of culture, that anybody can truthfully say that they own the set of instructions . Some copyright types tried to get the traditional Batik artists villages to copyright their village patterns they responded that that would be “blasphemy”.

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Ron, implications?