Course Information

Where, When:

  • Fall 2017 — Rm. 103
  • MW 8:45 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Instructor Information:

Professor Christopher Cotropia
Room: Weinstein International Building 316
Tel: 804-484-1574
Office Hours: Just come by or email

Course Goals and Description:

Computer Law is a transaction-oriented course designed to give students hands-on experience with providing legal service to a computer/technology-oriented company.  The goal of the course is to integrate doctrinal learning in the area of computer law with practical skills so that students not only learn legal rules in the computer law area but also how to apply these rules in the tasks that lawyers do on a daily basis in this area, from drafting software licenses to establishing a Digital Millennium Copyright Act compliance policy.

This semester, the class will be based around a “fictitious” client based loosely on the HBO-series “Silicon Valley” and the “Pied Piper” digital compression software at the center of the series.  The class will have four major assignments centering around four stages of the development and commercialization of Pied Piper’s software–(1) the initial licensing of the Pied Piper data compression software to customers, (2) the acquisition of cloud-deployment software for integration with the original  Pied Piper software, (3) the establishment of practices that place Pied Piper under the protection of the Safe Harbors of the DMCA, and (4) re-drafting the initial software license to facilitate (a) cloud deployment of the Pied Piper software and (b) development and modification of aspects of Pied Piper by its users.  The timing of these “major” assignments, both when assigned and due, is set forth below.  There will also be “minor” assignments related to the major assignments and a particular week’s reading.

Text and Course Procedure:  

This course does not have a text that needs to be purchased.  The reading for a particular week is linked on the Syllabus or found as part of that week’s “minor” assignment.  The course is organized by week, with the weeks starting on “Wednesday” to allow for sufficient time to conduct the weekly practice assignments.  Accordingly, on most Wednesdays, we will discuss a new doctrinal topic.  On most following Mondays, we will review a drafting, or other, assignment relating to the doctrinal topic.  Unless specified in class, all assignments are due before class on Monday and should be turned in by e-mail to me at


The grading for this class will be based on the following:

1. Class Participation and Attendance (25% of final grade):

All students receive a class participation/attendance score. I am looking for (a) attendance and (b) consistently insightful participation, not merely rapid observation of the obvious. The best sort of in-class comment is one that goes beyond mere recitation of the assigned material and adds a different perspective or insight to the discussion.

2. Minor Assignments (25% of final grade):

Many weeks students will be assigned a “minor” assignment on Wednesday that is due before class on the following Monday.  These minor assignments include all assignments except the four “major” assignments identified below.  Minor assignments will be graded on a pass plus, pass, or fail scale.  Grading will be based on such factors as responsiveness to the call of the assignment, insight, effort, and turning the assignment in on time.  They are due before class on the due date and should be turned in by e-mail.

3. Major Assignments (50% of final grade):

Students will also be assigned four “major” assignments throughout the semester.  They are also due before class on the due date and should be turned in by e-mail.

The following are the key dates for the major graded assignments:

  • Initial License

9/13:  First Graded Assignment Distributed

10/11:  First Graded Assignment Due Before Class

  • Edit of Acquisition License

10/11:  Second Graded Assignment Distributed

10/23: Second Graded Assignment Due Before Class

  • DMCA Policy & Registration

10/25:  Third Graded Assignment Distributed

11/6:  Third Graded Assignment Due Before Class

  • Change and Redraft of Initial License

11/8:  Fourth Graded Assignment Distributed

12/6:  Fourth Graded Assignment Due Before Class