Announcing a New Casebook: “Advertising & Marketing Law: Cases & Materials” by Tushnet & Goldman

By Eric Goldman

I’m thrilled to announce the public release of a new casebook, Advertising & Marketing Law: Cases and Materials by Rebecca Tushnet and me. We are publishing the book as a DRM-free PDF download at Scribd for only $10. [UPDATE: We are also selling the book via Gumroad with less hassle for buyers–give it a try.] The book is 870 pages and nearly 400,000 words of advertising and marketing law nirvana—a massive 40MB file chock full of photos (often showing the ad copy at issue), edited cases, explanatory narrative, tables/charts, diagrams and more. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you may even want to do a jig. You can see the detailed table of contents at Scribd. The chapter titles:

Chapter 0: Preface

Chapter 1: Overview

Chapter 2: What is an Advertisement?

Chapter 3: False Advertising Overview

Chapter 4: Deception

Chapter 5: Omissions and Disclosures

Chapter 6: Special Topics in Competitor Lawsuits

Chapter 7: Other Business Torts

Chapter 8: False Advertising Practice and Remedies

Chapter 9: Copyrights

Chapter 10: Brand Protection and Usage

Chapter 11: Competitive Restrictions

Chapter 12: Featuring People in Ads

Chapter 13: Privacy

Chapter 14: Promotions

Chapter 15: The Advertising Industry Ecosystem—Intermediaries and Their Regulation

Chapter 16: Case Studies

If you want to get a sense of the entire book, we’ve posted a free sample chapter (Chapter 12 about publicity rights and endorsements) to SSRN.

Although the book is targeted at law students, I think many other folks—students in other disciplines, lawyers, marketing and other businesspeople, policy-makers, etc.—will find the book a cost-effective and rewarding way to better understand a complicated and multi-faceted topic.

About Scribd: Scribd is a horribly limited platform for eBook publishing (and for doing just about everything else). [Among other limitations, I believe it only completes sales with US residents, and (for no good reason at all) it requires buyers to log in via Facebook to complete the purchase. If you can’t complete a purchase via Scribd due to these limitations, email me and we’ll set up a PayPal transaction.] [Update: I got an email from Scribd informing me that they just opened up international sales, and you must be logged into Scribd to make the purchase and you can (if you navigate around) find a way to log into Scribd without connecting with Facebook.] We are working on moving away from Scribd to a better eBook publishing platform…once we figure out what that is. If you have any recommendations, please email me.

Some of the many reasons why I’m so excited about the public release:

1) The Price. Compared to 99 cent or free eBooks, a $10 downloadable book may sound expensive. But, compared to the typical law school dead-trees casebook, $10 is a ridiculous bargain. Many print casebooks of comparable size cost $150 or more. In an era of rising tuition and hyper-competition for jobs, we just couldn’t justify asking students to pay that much.

Even better, a DRM-free PDF is more functional for readers than dead-trees books. Readers can load it onto laptops or other portable devices (although, as a PDF, it’s not completely mobile device-friendly—something we’re working on) and can copy it onto all of their computing devices. Readers can do full-text word searches. Depending on the reading client, readers can annotate and mark-up the book electronically. Readers can cut-and-paste material from the book into their course notes or outlines. Readers who want a hard copy can print it out (if needed, we provide a letter authorizing printing at a copyshop). And unlike some of the DRMed digital companions to dead-trees books, readers can keep the PDF indefinitely.

While we could easily justify a higher price than $10, we’re not exactly philanthropists. Here’s how I see the math: a $150 casebook may have a $110 price wholesale (or less). At 10% royalties to the authors, Rebecca and I would share $11. At the $10 download price, Scribd takes $2.25 a download, leaving us author royalties of $7.75. So discounting the retail price 93% perhaps reduces our royalties by less than 30%. Let’s hear it for disintermediation! Plus, just like any demand curve, the lower price point should lead to higher sales, which may, in fact, make our approach profit-maximizing. (Just so we don’t delude ourselves, we’re not talking big numbers in any case).

With such cheap pricing, we do have a request for readers: if you like the book so much you want to share it with your friends or colleagues, please send them over to the Scribd download page so they can purchase their own copy. You’ll still get kudos from your friends when they realize what a bargain you found for them.

2) Culmination of a Multi-Year Effort. I’ve been contemplating an advertising law casebook since at least 2006, when I had an epiphany about advertising law. I’ll blog more about that epiphany in a future blog post. Looking back through my emails, Rebecca and I first discussed this project in December 2007. Since then, Rebecca and I each have invested hundreds (possibly thousands) of hours on the casebook.

While we’ve deemed the book ready for public release, it’s not “done.” I’d say it’s only about 90% done. Unfortunately, you’re going to notice some of the unfinished 10%, starting with the crap-ass book “cover” I whipped up in about 5 minutes some time around midnight one night last week, and continuing with the countless typos and formatting errors you’ll find throughout the book. We’ll be fixing errors as we find them, so please send us your corrections and suggestions. Because Rebecca and I own the copyright and completely control the publication schedule, we anticipate issuing new versions fairly frequently. No promises, but I anticipate we’ll publish annual editions for at least the next few years.

Furthermore, although the book is already robust, we have a long list of desired improvements. In addition to the ordinary casebook maintenance, we hope future editions will include a better front cover, working hyperlinks, more case studies, a fully enabled eBook version suitable for mobile devices, and much more. We are also working on publishing a print-on-demand version.

3) Building an Advertising Law Academic Community. Before now, there wasn’t a law school casebook optimized for a standalone Advertising Law course. As a result, historically the small community of Advertising Law professors each independently built their own teaching materials. We hope this casebook proves useful to that existing community (indeed, some of them have already used beta versions of the casebook over the past couple of years). We also hope that the casebook encourages other professors to start teaching the course for the first time. We think the course is an excellent addition to the law school curricula, and in a later post, I’ll explain the many virtues of teaching an Advertising and Marketing Law course. If you’re currently teaching the course or are interested in doing so, please email me and I’ll send you a complimentary PDF.

We offer a variety of supplemental resources to help new (and existing) instructors ramp up to teach the course, including:

* a rudimentary teaching manual. This is another area we’ll be improving over time

* the Georgetown Intellectual Property Teaching Resources database, a treasure trove of useful digital artifacts and props. Email Rebecca for access to the database, and see her article Sight, Sound and Meaning: Teaching Intellectual Property with Audiovisual Materials

* copies of both Rebecca’s and my PowerPoint slide decks, teaching notes and syllabi

Overall, the casebook is a critical step—but only one step—in a larger and longer-term effort to organize and expand the community of teachers and scholars in Advertising and Marketing Law. Some of the other community-building endeavors we plan to pursue:

* an email list for Advertising Law professors

* an AALS section

* a work-in-progress series or other regular face-to-face opportunities for scholarly and pedagogical exchanges

We look forward to that journey. Thanks for being a part of it.