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LSAT

Unit 1: Lesson 10

Reading Comprehension - Worked Examples

Law passage overview | Copyright

Watch a demonstration of one way to use active reading strategies to approach a law passage on the LSAT reading comprehension section.

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Video transcript

- [Instructor] Here's a passage in the Law category of the Reading Comprehension section of the LSAT. Before I begin reading through it, I wanna call out a few things that you'll see me doing. First, I'll be paying close attention to the various viewpoints that are presented. Often, in law passages, you'll theories or viewpoints analyzed and critiqued, and the viewpoint of the author is often at odds with the other viewpoints being discussed. I'll also circle keywords and focus on topic sentences in order to keep the function of each paragraph clear in my mind. Finally, I always pay special attention to contrast words like but, yet, although, and however. After I finish with the close reading, you can go on and try some of the questions about this passage, or you can stick around for a couple more minutes while I sum up the passage. Here we go. Proponents of the tangible-object theory of copyright argue that copyright and similar intellectual-property rights can be explained as logical extensions of the right to own concrete, tangible objects. Okay, so there is a view being presented that belongs to the proponents of tangible-object theory of copyright. And this might be view that the author agrees with, or it might not. But this seems to be introducing just the definition of the tangible-object theory of copyright. This view depends on the claim that every copyrightable work can be manifested in some physical form, such as a manuscript or a videotape. So the view depends on this claim. So again, we don't know whether the author agrees with this view or agrees with this claim. It also accepts the premise that ownership of an object confers a number of right on the owner, who may essentially do whatever he or she pleases with the object to the extent that this does not violate other people's rights. Okay, let's see. One may, for example, hide or display the object, copy it, or destroy it. One may also transfer ownership of it to another. So let's go back and just make sure we know what it is. It is the tangible-object theory of copyright, and it also accepts the premise that ownership of an object gives all sorts of things to the owner, who may do whatever he or she pleases, and then, we have examples, you know, we have an example of hiding, displaying, copying it, destroying it, transferring ownership. Okay, so first paragraph defines tangible-object theory of copyright. Let's so to the second paragraph. In creating a new and original object from materials that one owns, one becomes the owner of that object and thereby acquires all of the rights that ownership entails. Okay, that makes sense. But if the owner transfers ownership of the object, the full complement of rights is not necessarily transferred to the new owner. Okay, we have a but here that is pretty critical. If the owner transfers ownership of the object, the full complement of rights is not necessarily transferred to the new owner. Instead, okay, another however, instead, the original owner may retain one or more of these rights. This notion of retained rights is common in many areas of law. For example, the seller of a piece of land may retain certain rights to the land in the form of easements or building restrictions. So this paragraph is starting to focus on retained rights. Applying the notion of retained rights to the domain of intellectual property, so there are real estate examples, seller of a piece of land, are gonna extend that to intellectual property. Theorists argue that copyrighting a work secures official recognition of one's intention to retain certain rights to that work, just like with land. Among the rights typically retained by the original producer of an object such as a literary manuscript or a musical score would be the right to copy the object for profit and the right to use it as a guide for the production of similar of analogous things, for example, a public performance of a musical score. So the author is arguing that intellectual property does have retained rights. So we have, among the rights that are typically retained, would be the right to copy, and the right to use it as a guide. Let's move on, third paragraph. According to proponents of the tangible-object theory, its chief advantage is that it justifies intellectual property rights without recourse to the widely accepted but problematic supposition that one can own abstract, intangible things such as ideas. Okay, we're gonna have a viewpoint here. Again, we're back to the proponents of the tangible-object theory, and we hear that the advantage is that it justifies intellectual property rights without having to worry about this problematic supposition that it's actually possible to own ideas. But while this account seems plausible for copyrightable entities that do, in fact, have enduring tangible forms, it cannot accommodate the standard assumption that such evanescent things as live broadcasts of sporting events can be copyrighted. Okay, so the author is starting to find some fault with the tangible-object theory. More importantly, it does not acknowledge that in many cases the work of conceiving ideas is more crucial and more valuable than that of putting them into tangible form. Suppose that a poet dictates a new poem to a friend, who writes it done on paper that the friend has supplied. There is another example, here's a supposition. The creator of the tangible object in this case is not the poet but the friend, and there would seem to be no ground for the poet's claiming copyright unless the poet can be said to already own the ideas expressed in the work. So it seems like the author feels like that poet does own those ideas and that ideas are ownable and that the poet does retain those rights in a way that the tangible-object theory does not necessarily allow. So that's the problem that author is finding with the tangible-object theory, and we have but here, we have a more importantly, the author definitely finding fault with the tangible-object theory. This passage is followed by a number of questions. I made videos for each of those questions, so you can go ahead and take a look at those now. At the moment, I'm gonna go back up, I'm gonna sum up the three paragraphs and what they did in this passage. Paragraph one introduces the idea of tangible-object theory of copyright. It explains the assumptions upon which the theory rests, including the idea that every copyrightable work can be manifested in some physical form. Paragraph two focuses on retained rights, that is, the notion of this transfer of ownership of an object doesn't give all the rights associated with that object to the new owner. But the author tells us that some theorists argue that if you copyright something, you are intending to retain some rights. So, here we have this assumption of some theorists. The theorists are here. Copyrighting the work secures official recognition of one's intention to retain certain rights. So again, this paragraph is about the retention of those rights. Paragraph three, the author starts to pick holes in the tangible-object copyright theory in a more explicit way. We're told that it is widely accepted that one can, in fact, own abstract ideas, and tangible-object theory is at odds with this idea. Ideas are valuable and tangible-object theory proponents would have us believe that someone who copies down someone else's idea owns the idea because they created that tangible object, that copy. The author disagrees with this and gives us an example of a poet who, in the author's view, clearly owns the ideas in a work that was copied by a friend. So when we see this, the creator of the tangible object in this case is not the poet but the friend, and there would seem to be no ground for the poet's claiming copyright unless the poet can be said to already own the ideas expressed in the work. And again, there's an inference here that the author does believe that that poet does have some retained rights for that idea because we also hear that author believes that conceiving ideas is pretty crucial and pretty valuable, and it's more valuable than actually writing them down. Okay, let's head to the questions.