Case Teaching and Cultivation of Copyright Literacy in Copyright Course for Business English Majors in the School of Foreign Languages


In order to cultivate the copyright literacy and strengthen comprehensive application ability of copyright knowledge among students majoring in Business English at the School of Foreign Languages, this paper proposes a Case Teaching method that combines “Hot Case Sharing” and “Classic Case Discussion and Review” in the teaching practice of the course “Copyright Theory and Practice” in daily classrooms to cultivate students’ copyright literacy; while at the end of the semester, a “Copyright Case Competition” organized to test and strengthen the application ability of copyright knowledge among students. Case Teaching Method has been proven to be an effective way to enhance students’ learning autonomy, cultivate their critical thinking ability, and strengthen their comprehensive copyright literacy.

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Fan, Q.P. (2023) Case Teaching and Cultivation of Copyright Literacy in Copyright Course for Business English Majors in the School of Foreign Languages. Open Access Library Journal, 10, 1-10. doi: 10.4236/oalib.1110920.

1. Introduction

The 13th Five Year Plan for Copyright Work in China proposes to initially build a strong copyright country with Chinese characteristics by 2020 [1] . During the 14th Five Year Plan period, copyright, as a component of intellectual property, a fundamental resource of culture, an important manifestation of innovation, and a pillar industry of the national economy, played an increasingly important and significant role in accelerating the construction of a new development pattern and the process of building an innovative country, a cultural power, and an intellectual property power. The 13th Five Year Plan for Copyright Work proposes the development goal of achieving significant results in building a strong copyright country by 2025. [2] From the major piracy cases announced by the National Copyright Administration in recent years, it can be seen that although copyright work has always adhered to the three basic principles of strict copyright protection, promoting the development of the copyright industry, and improving the copyright work system, due to the low literacy of the public in copyright protection, from traditional industries such as furniture design copyright infringement to the widespread use of the internet, the infringement behavior on the internet has greatly improved compared to before, But there is still a situation where the grass cannot be burned out by a prairie fire but grows again with the spring breeze. As announced on the website of the National Copyright Administration on February 28, 2023, the “Top 10 Cases of National Combating Copyright Infringement and Piracy in 2021” included similar cases in previous years, such as infringement of copyright in art works, infringement of book copyright, illegal dissemination of sports events, and theft of cinematic films. The state firmly combats piracy and repeatedly emphasizes the implementation of strict copyright protection, but these piracy behaviors are repeatedly prohibited. Therefore, efforts should be made from universities that continuously provide talent to society to prevent infringement and cultivate copyright literacy.

The employment direction of language graduates involves translation, business, advertising copy writing, self-media work, and so on. Their daily work often involves copyright. Therefore, strengthening the cultivation of language talents’ copyright literacy is a necessary measure. The course “Copyright Theory and Practice” is an elective course offered for the Business English majors by the School of Foreign Languages at Shanghai Publishing and Printing College, relying on the school’s favorable academic atmosphere for publishing. However, simply teaching the theory of copyright law is not only tedious but also difficult for students to understand, therefore, an effective class requires the introduction of a large number of cases for explanation. After several rounds of repeated practicing and polishing, the teacher has preliminarily summarized a set of effective teaching methods for cultivating students’ copyright literacy: Case Teaching (Hot Case Sharing & Classic Case Discussion and Review) to clarify and explain copyright theory and cultivate copyright literacy. Meanwhile, at the end of the semester, a case competition (Telling Contemporary Chinese Copyright Stories: Copyright Case and Heated Topic Display Competition) to test and strengthen the comprehensive application ability of copyright. Practice has proven that case teaching can enhance students’ interest, fully mobilize their learning enthusiasm and initiative, and effectively improve the effectiveness of classroom teaching. During the competition, students have developed their critical thinking skills through data collection and analysis, script writing, and repertoire rehearsals. By actively applying knowledge of copyright law to analyze copyright cases, they can effectively improve their copyright literacy. Practice has proven that case teaching can enhance students’ interest, fully mobilize their learning enthusiasm and initiative, and improve the effectiveness of classroom teaching. During the competition, students have developed their critical thinking skills through data collection and analysis, script writing, and repertoire rehearsals. By actively applying knowledge of copyright law to analyze copyright cases, they can effectively improve their copyright literacy.

2. Case Teaching to Cultivate Copyright Literacy

Legal provisions are highly generalized and abstract, and are beyond students’ understanding. To make legal provisions grounded, it is necessary to introduce rich and diverse real-life cases, and then use corresponding legal provisions to explain the specific situation of the cases one by one.

2.1. Hot Case Sharing

Teachers may use recent social hotspots and news to assist in understanding legal provisions in their teaching, and invite students to explore and share social hotspots and news that can explain the legal provisions or their characteristics. There are a large number of news reports on copyright infringement on the internet, and these fresh materials undoubtedly constitute a rich library of teaching cases. Many institutions, such as the National Copyright Administration, conduct an annual inventory of the top ten cases of intellectual property infringement. The “Excellent Cases” and “Interpretation by Case” columns on the website of the Shanghai Intellectual Property Court, as well as the “Practical Discussion” column of the Beijing Intellectual Property Court, all provide authentic cases. These cases are typical and highlight some new situations and contradictions in the development of the industry.

As announced by the National Copyright Administration, the “Top 10 Cases of National Crackdown on Infringement and Piracy in 2021” [3] include the copyright infringement case on the Shanghai “Renren Film and Television Subtitle Group” website. The website “Renren Film and Television Subtitle Group” has a large number of members. A large number of infringing works are involved. And its social impact is significant. Since 2018, Liang has established a company to develop and operate the “Renren Film and Television Subtitle Group” website. Without the permission of the copyright owners, he organized personnel to translate, produce, and upload 32,824 Chinese and foreign film and television works, developed 6.83 million members, and made profits in disguised form by accepting “donations”, collecting advertising fees through soliciting advertisements, and selling copies. The illegal business amount exceeded 12 million yuan. In November 2021, the Shanghai Third Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Liang to three years and six months in prison for copyright infringement, and also fined 1.5 million yuan; other accomplices were sentenced to imprisonment ranging from one year, six months to three years, and fined ranging from 40,000 to 350,000 yuan. The determination of issues related to the crime of copyright infringement, such as “unauthorized” reproduction and distribution, quantity of works, evidence collection, and unit crime, is of reference significance for similar cases. The investigation of this case fully demonstrates China’s determination and ability to equally protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese and foreign copyright owners equally, and create a good business environment. Many students, when they first learned about this case, had a “sympathy” for Renren Film and Television. Many of them had access to many excellent foreign film and television works through Renren Film and Television, and the “subtitle” translation was easy to understand and “free”. The students raised a common concern: “Why is Renren Film and Television closed while other subtitle groups are not?” The conclusion is that Renren Film and Television is a fake subtitle group and a true pirate group. Through the analysis of specific cases, students understand that the act of producing subtitles for foreign language film and television dramas for personal learning, appreciation, school classroom teaching, scientific research, etc., in accordance with Article 24 of the Copyright Law, is considered “reasonable use” and not infringing. However, acts aimed at profit, unauthorized reproduction and distribution, or dissemination of audio-visual works by others through information networks infringe on the copyright of the rights holder, and if the circumstances are serious, constitute a crime.

Prior to World Intellectual Property Day in 2022, the Ministry of Public Security announced 10 typical cases [4] . Among them, there are typical cases of cracking down on crimes that infringe on the copyright of film and television works. In December 2021, the Tianjin public security organs cracked the “December 15th” copyright infringement case based on clues transferred by administrative law enforcement departments, closed down infringing websites and applications that spread pirated popular film and television works such as “Changjin Lake”, sealed more than 78,000 various types of film and television works, promptly curbed the spread of pirated film and television works, effectively purified the operating environment of the copyright market, and effectively served literary and artistic creation and prosperity. Through the “Renren Film and Television” case and the “December 15th” copyright infringement case, students deeply realize that copyright law is not only about protecting the rights and interests of copyright owners, but also balancing the interests of copyright owners, work disseminators, and the public, and meeting the growing spiritual and cultural needs of the people.

“Window cut” is one of the top ten most popular special effects of Tiktok in 2021. Its main function is to provide window views and red paper pages. By identifying the running track of the user’s nose tip, the effect of “trimming” the window cut on the screen with the nose tip as scissors will be presented. After the “window cut” was launched in Tiktok on February 4, 2021, its huge success in commercial promotion immediately led to malicious copying. The court ruled that plagiarism constituted infringement, setting a precedent for using copyright law to protect “short video effects” [5] . The students discussed whether “window flower scissors” as a “short video special effects” work can be protected by copyright. Although short videos are the crystallization of intellectual achievements and have typical copyright attributes, for a long time, due to China’s copyright law not including short videos in the category of legally protected works, the malicious plagiarism prevalent in the short video field has been difficult to effectively curb. As our work and life intersect more and more with the work of online platforms, cases of online infringement are also increasing day by day. It is very necessary to strengthen knowledge related to online copyright protection in daily teaching, and list relevant cases of online copyright protection.

When discussing the regionality of intellectual property (including copyright) works, the class cited examples of TECNO Mobile Phones. In the second quarter of 2023, the shipment volume of TECNO mobile phones reached 22.7 million units, capturing 9% of the global mobile phone market share and growing at the fastest pace in the world. (For persuasive cases, they can be used repeatedly in different teaching years, but the data needs to be updated in a timely manner.) However, with such a high sales volume, TECNO is unknown in China, and students have never heard of this phone brand. Why is this? Mainly because the appearance and configuration of this phone are outdated and there is not much market in China. Although the manufacturing process and level of sound transmission are considered outdated by many Chinese manufacturers, it has been loved by people in Africa and even developed into a necessity for Africans. Because the manufacturing cost of voice phones is only around $20, they have become an electronic product that many people can afford in Africa. Students therefore understand why copyright protection obtained by copyright owners can only be effective within the country where the copyright was obtained. The effectiveness of intellectual property in space is limited to the domestic territory (unless there are special provisions in international treaties, bilateral or multilateral agreements).

The purpose of case teaching method is to provide students with diverse real cases to see the complexity of real life and inspire them to use abstract legal clauses to analyze and solve practical problems. During the discussion process, teachers should not put pressure on students, but encourage them to actively think and speak up boldly. For controversial cases, teachers do not need to provide standard answers, and students can reserve their own opinions. This heuristic teaching method can enable students to enter problem situations, be in a positive thinking state, have a relatively active classroom atmosphere, and achieve better mutual learning between teaching and learning.

2.2. Classic Case Discussion and Review

Numerous classic piracy cases highlight the sharpness of the piracy problem. Among them, the “Napster case” in the music industry can be considered a milestone. In the early stages of digital music dissemination, Napster served as a P2P sharing platform that allowed users to download music for free. Files do not need to be stored centrally on a specific server first, but on the end user’s computer, these files are directly transferred and exchanged between users. Napster generally only provides file directories to its online users, but does not copy files on its server. However, this directly infringes on the copyright of musicians, triggering a debate involving intellectual property, digital communication, and public awareness. The students compared this case with the copyright infringement case on the Shanghai “Renren Film and Television Subtitle Group” website and realized that internet companies should pay special attention to handling copyright issues of their works while developing. When analyzing cases, in order to gain a deeper understanding of legal provisions and flexibly apply them, it is necessary to conduct comparative analysis of similar cases. Teachers often lead students to search for materials and papers together, as some cases may appear similar, but differences in details can lead to completely different judgments. Through comparative analysis, students can find differences in similar cases and analyze complex infringement situations.

When it comes to subsidiary copyrights and their development, the comprehensive media group model, which is currently widely recognized as an efficient model in both domestic and foreign industries, Disney Company deserves mention. Disney Company is not only the ceiling of copyright protection, but its comprehensive media group model can also connect book affiliated copyrights at different levels of the value chain, forming structural advantages. Since the establishment of the studio by the Disney brothers, in the following 100 years, Disney has had a profound impact on the world in theme parks, film production, television programs, music recording, publishing, and consumer goods. With the strongest legal department on the surface, Walt Disney stands at the peak of protecting its own copyright. In 1987, a Japanese elementary school graduate drew a Mickey’s head at the bottom of the school swimming pool as a graduation commemoration. After Disney learned about it, they believed that the pattern had a promotional effect on the school and requested the school to revoke it on the grounds of “copyright infringement”. At the 61st Academy Awards in 1989, Eileen Bowman played the famous fairy tale character Snow White. At first glance, the image is very similar to that of Snow White in the company’s animated film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, and has not yet been approved by the company. The American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (also known as the host of the Golden Awards) has been sued for copyright infringement. Disney can even promote copyright law in the United States. In 1790, the first edition of the Copyright Act in the United States was introduced. As of now, the US copyright law has undergone four revisions. Two of them existed because Mickey Mouse’s copyright was about to expire, and Disney Company lobbied Congress to amend the copyright law, extending its lifespan until 2023. Students not only praised Disney as the strongest copyright fighter, but also raised doubts. The intangible intellectual achievements, as the object of intellectual property rights, are manifested as information that could have freely flowed, and the creation of intellectual property rights is a product of public policy. On the one hand, public policy stimulates and encourages people to engage in creative and creative activities by creating intellectual property rights, and on the other hand, it only provides limited protection to enable the public to make reasonable use of it. Disney’s numerous works are directly or indirectly adapted from works that have already entered the public domain. The little mermaid comes from Andersen’s fairy tale, and the fairy tale of the fairy tale of Grimm. The well-known works such as “Aladdin”, “Alice in Wonderland”, “Cinderella”, “Mulan”, “Sleeping Beauty”, “Ice and Snow Wonderland”, and “Fantasy Forest” are no exception. But Disney has repeatedly extended the copyright protection period of its own works that is equivalent to making copyright permanent in disguise. Students generally believe that Disney’s behavior is not in the public interest and violates the original intention of designing intellectual property. It not only stifles innovation and destroys knowledge, but also betrays the public interest, making it impossible for the public to exert and recreate on the existing foundation, thereby hindering the further development of culture and art. The advantage of case teaching is that teachers do not need to preach from book to book, only need to present facts and ask appropriate questions. The focus of teaching should always be on students’ self-discovery. During the discussion process, students will come up with many creative ideas, some of which may even be overlooked by teachers. After thorough discussion, the approximate result of the case was basically obtained.

The case teaching method requires teachers to make sufficient preparations before class, and in the selection of cases, they should follow the order of easy first and then difficult. The same type of case has different focuses and should achieve complementary effects. Teachers should not only familiarize themselves with relevant legal knowledge, but also pay attention to industry development hotspots, connect and compare relevant cases, and encourage students to draw inferences from other cases. Teachers provide case information and timely ask questions, guiding students from passivity to initiative, encouraging students to inspire each other, and discussing enthusiastically in class. After class, teachers should also timely summarize and reflect on whether the case selection is appropriate, whether the case analysis is in-depth, and so on.

3. Copyright Case Competition to Test and Strengthen Copyright Literacy

Copyright literacy emphasizes the skill or ability to search for and use copyrighted works within the legal framework, as well as to protect one’s own intellectual works, based on a full understanding of copyright-related knowledge. It is not only the ability to identify these works, but more importantly, the ability to utilize them in a moral and legal manner. It is necessary to protect the rights of the creators of the works and maximize the needs of the users of the works, to promote academic freedom of exchange and resource sharing. With the development of the Internet, information and communication technology, and digital media, people are facing unprecedented challenges in dealing with copyright issues, and copyright literacy is becoming increasingly important.

At the end of the semester, in order to test and enhance students’ comprehensive application ability of the copyright knowledge they have learned, a “Telling Contemporary Chinese Copyright Stories: Copyright Case and Heated Topic Display Competition” will be held. It can strengthen students’ awareness of copyright creation, protection, and application, improve young college students’ innovation ability, and is committed to building a platform for business English majors in the Foreign Language Department to stimulate English learning, cultivate critical thinking ability, and demonstrate comprehensive literacy. Based on the syllabus of the course “Copyright Theory and Practice” for the Business English major at the School of Foreign Languages at Shanghai Publishing and Printing College, the candidate cases for the case competition mainly focus on three aspects: copyright disputes, copyright introduction, and copyright output.

The contestant will present a case study in English for at least 5 minutes, with the theme of “Telling Contemporary Chinese Copyright Stories: Copyright Case and Heated Topic Display”. The English drama will showcase the process of copyright infringement or the process of copyright introduction and output, as well as a case study for at least 3 minutes (case history, legal analysis, and social impact). Competition requirements are arranged as follows: Tell a Chinese copyright story which can show the environment for copyright creation, protection, and application, and demonstrate a good atmosphere of respecting knowledge and copyright. According to the schedule, the competition is divided into three steps: the first step is to form teams within the class, divide the work among the participating team members who independently collect typical cases. The case needs to be representative, up-to-date, and controversial. For this competition, students are required to pay attention to collecting information, especially typical cases that have attracted widespread attention from society. Step 2, script writing and report presentation preparation. In order to reveal the process of infringement or demonstrate dramatic conflicts, each team cooperates sincerely, and their scripts and rehearsals are repeatedly polished to showcase the details of infringement, introduction or output. The PPT case study after the English drama demonstrates that it is not only the exercise of eloquence but also the training of thinking, and all of this is based on a deep understanding and flexible application of copyright law. Many students have put forth the energy of academic research, searched and studied relevant paper materials, and made a lot of sufficient preparations. This is also a process of continuously deepening their understanding of issues and related copyright laws. Step 3: Competition arranged one week before the final exam. After each group completes the presentation, the teacher will comment on the details of copyright infringement, copyright introduction or output displayed in the English drama. The judges will rate the contestants based on their English dramas and case descriptions (case history, legal analysis, social impact), and the competition results will be included as a very important part in the regular grades of this course. In the recent two rounds of case competitions, students have selected various hot cases in recent years, such as “How to Identify Literary Works as Plagiarism from the Case of Zhuang Yu’s Litigation over Guo Jingming’s Copyright Dispute”, “The copyright controversy of ‘Tan Tan Traffic’” “Tencent vs. Litchi APP for Infringement of Audio Copyright of ‘Three Body’”. These popular cases all have considerable social influence. However, after the bustling social news, how can we alert the world and play the role of popular cases in social education? The students conducted in-depth thinking and exploration on this. Through role-playing, they enter the case and vividly display the situation of copyright disputes or copyright import and output, with the highlights triggering laughter and applause from the audience. After the English drama, the PowerPoint case explanation session was closely coordinated among group members. Through exquisite PowerPoint production, clear analysis of ideas, and exciting case reviews, it sparked enthusiastic applause from the judges, teachers, and the entire class. Everyone generally believes that this competition is beneficial and interesting, marking a wonderful end to the semester of learning.

4. Conclusions

Practice has proven that Case teaching (hot case sharing + classic case discussion) grounded the abstract legal provisions, and introduced a variety of realistic cases in the classroom to clarify the copyright theory and cultivate copyright literacy. While “Telling Contemporary Chinese Copyright Stories: Copyright Case and Heated Topic Display Competition” can test students’ comprehensive abilities and fully mobilize their enthusiasm. The presentation of the infringement process in English dramas (1) Why infringe? Where are the points of interest? 2) The process of infringement? How are the details of infringement reflected?), combined with the subsequent PPT case analysis (case history, legal analysis, social impact), strengthens students’ comprehensive ability to apply the copyright knowledge they have learned, and also strengthens their awareness of copyright creation, protection, and application.

In several rounds of case teaching, the author discovered two teaching principles: Firstly, diverse real cases can help students see the complexity of real life and inspire them to use abstract legal clauses to analyze and solve practical problems. Teachers should not preach according to the book, but just present facts and ask appropriate questions. The focus of teaching should always be on students’ independent discovery. For controversial cases, teachers do not need to provide standard answers, and students can reserve their opinions. Alternatively, academic researchers can independently review papers on these classic or popular cases, think about them, and then draw conclusions. Secondly: It is important to choose as many cases as possible related to the news and publishing industry (or related to students’ training programs and employment directions), which can not only increase students’ interest but also enable them to pay more attention to the development of the industry. After class, teachers should also timely summarize and reflect, and continuously adjust and optimize to maximize the advantages of case teaching method.

Conflicts of Interest

The author declares no conflicts of interest.


[1] 赖名芳. 2020年初步建成中国特色版权强国[N]. 中国新闻出版广电报, 2017-02-15(001).

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