Free Harvard class teaches non-lawyers about copyright

Would you like to invoke the authority of Harvard the next time you debate authors’ rights or file-sharing? You might have your chance thanks to a new 12-week copyright course that seeks to mimic the experience of a Harvard Law School class.

The course, offered via open source learning platform edX, will be taught by Harvard law professor William Fisher III and a gaggle of teaching assistants from the school’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. The 500 students who are accepted will discuss copyright issues in small groups and receive a Harvard certificate after sitting for a three-hour exam.

While online learning opportunities abound these days, this one is intriguing because it appears to combine the promise of universal access with an elite experience — online learning sites like Coursera and Udacity similarly offer classes from top-tier schools, but don’t require students to apply for acceptance or limit the number of students who can participate. The Harvard offering also represents a welcome way to expand the copyright debate beyond the legal community and entertainment industry.

See this Education Week piece for more details. Registration closes at midnight today.

(Image by col via Shutterstock)