Teaching Socially Diverse Intellectual Property Law: A Design-based Intervention Using Minecraft as the Classroom

Maria Jose Schmidt-Kessen, Stina Teilmann-Lock, Florence Villeséche

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Intellectual property (IP) law usually is taught as sets of rules, legal frameworks, practices, institutions and methods and students are taught what they can do within such confines but are generally not engaging with the social and ethical implications thereof. In this presentation, we discuss how awareness raising may work together with experiential learning as a pedagogical approach for teaching IP law in a way that pays heed to social diversity and ethical uses of legal tools. To develop on our conceptual argument, we present an IP law teaching format with the Minecraft sandbox video game. This teaching format was developed by a group of European, North American and Australian IP teachers and artists. We ran a pilot version during the covid-19 lockdown in Spring 2021 and reiterated in 2023.

The pedagogics of combining awareness raising and experiential learning provide learners of IP law with context-specific knowledge of the law laying the ground for more ethically attuned debates. For awareness raising, participants were assigned readings on selected cases where copyright issues encounter questions related to decolonial agendas, creative practice, pushes from technology, and more. The specific learning focus in the pilot sessions was on copyright law in relation to digital cultural heritage, and copyright discussions were related to digital mash-ups and remixes of artwork and architectural landmarks, as well as digital fashion. The cases of the Hoa Hakananai’a of the Easter Islands, the Arch of Triumph of Palmyra, and the bust of Queen Nefertiti were proposed as exemplary of copyright-driven North-South socio-economic inequalities in digital cultural heritage while cases involving works and mash-ups by artists Andy Warhol, Alberto Korda, Roy Lichtenstein and Shepard Fairey represented social dilemmas of copyright as applied to creative practice.

Developing the Minecraft intervention, designers’ methods were employed to support experiential learning, making participants learn and think by ‘doing’. In particular, design methods – including prototyping, co-creating, problem framing, learning-from-failure, user-centricity, and more – were used to mitigate the divide between the educational space of legal disciplines and the lived experience where law applies. In the Minecraft intervention, participants were instructed to work with imported 3D models of the selected artworks and cultural heritage artifacts and, in turn, co-create their own objects (based on the models) and consider ways in which the new or remixed digital objects might be monetized by licensing or minting NFTs. Reflecting on their own roles, actions and reactions in these processes participants entered discussions of the situatedness of law, which in turn prompted debates on social diversity in IP law. Finally, as educators, we reflected on how the combination of awareness raising and experiential learning – such as our Minecraft intervention developed with design methods, provides insights and avenues for learning quality and social diversity in IP law teaching.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2023
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2023
EventEIPTN 15th Worldwide Annual Conference: Sustainability and Diversity in Intellectual Property Teaching - Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark
Duration: 6 Oct 20237 Oct 2023
Conference number: 15


ConferenceEIPTN 15th Worldwide Annual Conference
LocationCopenhagen Business School
Internet address

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