The sound of love purrs like a stallion,
all 12 cylinders aimed at arousin’
An open road, a banked turn
No distractions ahead. Let love burn!
There are many ways to teach the principles of copyright. I prefer poetry.
While copyright law may not be poetry, nothing teaches it like a good love poem. Let me explain. Copyright lawyers know that a work is not able to be copyrighted until it is fixed in a tangible medium of expression. This is a basic principal of copyright law but how do you explain that to an undergrad? I use a two-step process to illustrate the point to my Mass Communications law class.
First, I give them the following writing:
Compose, but do NOT write down, an original poem about love.
Your poem may NOT include the phrase “roses are red, violets are blue,” nor any reference to someone
My class is a required class for all students in the communication college which includes broadcast, journalism and media production majors. A student must be a junior or senior to get into my class and, as a consequence, should have writing prompts wired. But as soon as they realize that they have to compose a love poem, they freeze.
I give them time to compose the poem and at the five-minute mark I put up a slide that says, “Write down your original poem.” Over the years I’ve saved the poems and I want to share the best of the them with you.
The Poetry Foundation classifies love poems into ten categories including classic love, romantic love and sad love. I, on the other hand, divide the Pepperdine love poems into three basic groups – bitter, sexual and grab bag.
The bitter taste of a bad breakup crosses gender lines. A male student wrote:
Love is a
His female counterpart wrote:
Love is like a perfect flower
Or an all-consuming power
Every day and every hour
Until the sweet gives way to sour
The gender gap is more evident when the poems addresses the sexual aspects of love. One male student wrote:
Honey for you I will steal the moon and make a ring
A great ring with it
Baby for you I will go in the sky, steal the
stars and make a necklace for you
Love for you I would go to Mars and make earrings for you with Mars rocks.
Baby, are you goin to have sex with me or you want me to destroy the whole universe?
To be naked is to be vulnerable; especially if it’s the first time. A female student wrote:
L is for the way you look in the nude.
O is for the only one I’ve ever seen nude.
V is very, very… very, very, very nude.
E is even more than I would ever want to see in the nude.
Grab bag is a catch all category and includes poems such as the following written by a male student:
Love is an untamable beast
Difficult to grasp, difficult to resist
Ephemeral like a wind, or strong like a storm
It takes you by surprise and never leaves your dorm
When a guy let’s her down, a girl can always turn to everyone’s best friend – her dog.
True love can only be from a dog
Because they aren’t people and don't suck.
They’re not always worried about making a buck.
Dogs think you’re pretty, even when you’re not,
Especially if you’re crying with lots of snot.
They kind of smell, but that's ok
I’d take one over a human any day.
Some say that the eye is the window to the soul. I say that poetry is the window to the soul of a college student.
This post originally appeared on abovethelaw.com.
Jon Pfeiffer is an experienced entertainment and copyright trial attorney practicing in Santa Monica. Jon is also an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California where he teaches Media Law. COM 570 covers First Amendment issues as well as copyright, defamation and privacy.