GJRA Discussions 2016, Abstract The First: Lisa Macklem on comics and legal education

Ahead of our inaugural Discussions on 4-5 July at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, we are happy to start publishing a series of abstracts of papers that will be presented at the conference. Registration remains open – see previous post for the details.
First up is this great-looking paper from Lisa Macklem (University of Western Ontario): ‘The Law Doesn’t Have to be Ugly or Boring: A Legal Education in Pictures’. It sounds like it will be a fantastic exploration of how comics can improve legal education.
Access to justice can be thwarted by a basic misunderstanding of or lack of education about the law. Bound by Law? and Music: A History of Theft by James Boyle, Jennifer Jenkins, and Keith Aoki, produced by the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke Law, layer the lessons of fair use through the use of metaphor, story, and their own creative commons licenses. Bound by Law? was intended for an audience in the entertainment industry to help dispel myths about their own rights. Cory Doctorow points out that Bound by Law? “is a sensible book about a ridiculous subject. It’s an example of the principle it illustrates” (Introduction). The authors noted that “readers seemed to prefer comic books to our law review articles” (253). Comics provide a non-threatening and non-intimidating medium that welcome readers in who are more familiar and comfortable with the artistic ways of making meaning between word and picture than with the legalese of statutes or law textbooks. Bound by Law? had a specific audience in mind, but the story and medium can educate a broader audience, and Music: A History of Theft deepens the discussion begun in the first volume, adding a further layer of meaning to the principles set out in Bound by Law? This paper will examine the traditional comics tropes that are used to make this difficult subject more accessible without losing academic rigor, proving that the law can be as beautiful as the art it seeks to both nurture and protect.
Lisa Macklem is a PhD Candidate in Law at the University of Western Ontario, Lisa’s Canadian JD is with a specialization in Intellectual Property and Information Technology. Her American LLM is with a specialization in Entertainment and Media law. Lisa holds an MA in Media Studies, and is on the editorial board of The Journal of Fandom Studies and previously was a student editor and then a member of the alumni editorial board for the ABA Journal of International Media and Entertainment Law.
Further Reading:
Aoki, Keith, James Boyle, Jennifer Jenkins. Tales From the Public Domain: Bound by Law? Duke Center for the Study of the Public Domain, 2006, 2008. https://www.law.duke.edu/cspd/comics/digital/

—. Tales From the Public Domain: Theft: A History of Music. Duke Center for the Study of the Public Domain, 2017. https://law.duke.edu/musiccomic/

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