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Professor publishes article on copyright laws and public domain

Robert E. Spoo, professor at The University of Tulsa College of Law, has published an article on the Legal Theory Blog titled “The Uncoordinated Public Domain.”

Bob Spoo

The article looks at divergent national copyright laws that have resulted in an uncoordinated global public domain “that renders authors’ works freely available for use in some countries while subjecting them to copyright or moral-rights protection in others,” writes Spoo.

The article offers a theoretical framework for understanding the uncoordinated public domain and recommends a balanced solution by employing a treaty-based system of compulsory licenses to harmonize national public domains and to coordinate the legal conditions whereby the world’s informational resources could be globally disseminated by researchers and other users.

Spoo, who is Chapman Distinguished Professor in Law, was awarded a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship in the Humanities by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. After graduating from the Yale Law School, he served as law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, when she was on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He practiced for several years with law firms in New York, Oklahoma and San Francisco, providing litigation services and advice in the areas of copyrights, trademarks and other intellectual property.

Prior to his legal career, Spoo received his MA and PhD degrees in English from Princeton University and taught for more than 10 years as a tenured faculty member in the English Department at The University of Tulsa, where he was also editor of the James Joyce Quarterly. He has published numerous books and articles on James Joyce, Ezra Pound and other modern literary figures. His teaching interests include copyrights and intellectual property, media and entertainment law, law and literature, and the copyright-related needs of scholars. His publications have appeared in the Yale Law Journal, the Stanford Law Review, the UCLA Law Review and other law and humanities journals, as well as in collections published by Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press.

His most recent book, Without Copyrights: Piracy, Publishing and the Public Domain (Oxford University Press, 2013; paper 2016), has been praised in The Nation, the London Times Literary Supplement, the Paris Review Daily, the American Historical Review, and other journals. Supported by his Guggenheim Fellowship, he is completing a book entitled Modernism and the Law, to be published by Bloomsbury Publishing.

In June 2008, he received the Lucia R. Briggs Distinguished Achievement Award for “outstanding contributions and achievements in a career field,” from his undergraduate institution, Lawrence University. He has also received Outstanding Professor Awards from the TU College of Law, and received The University of Tulsa’s Outstanding University Teacher Award in 2010-11.