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Robert Spoo, PhD, JD

Robert Spoo, PhD, JD
Associate Dean of Faculty Development (Law)
Chapman Distinguished Professor of Law
College of Law
918-631-2447 College of Law


PhD – Princeton University MA – Princeton University JD – Yale Law School BA – Lawrence University


Professor Spoo earned his JD from the Yale Law School, where he was Executive Editor of the Yale Law Journal and received the Michael Egger Prize for best student publication on current social problems in volume 108 of the Yale Law Journal. After graduating, he served as law clerk for the Honorable Sonia Sotomayor, of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and 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. As an attorney, Professor Spoo has represented authors, scholars, documentary filmmakers, record companies, and other creators and users of intellectual property. His litigation work has included serving as co-counsel, with the Stanford Center for Internet & Society and other attorneys, for Professor Carol Shloss of Stanford against the Estate of James Joyce. In 2005, he was asked to travel to Vietnam to advise the Ministry of Education and Training on issues of intellectual property and higher education.

Prior to his legal career, Professor Spoo received his MA and PhD in English from Princeton University and taught for more than ten 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 UCLA Law Review, and other law and humanities journals, as well as in collections published by Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press. Professor Spoo's book, Without Copyrights: Piracy, Publishing, and the Public Domain (New York: Oxford University Press, July 2013), offers a legal and cultural history of the impact on non-US authors of the protectionist and isolationists features of US copyright laws from 1790 on.

Professor Spoo is a member of the Modernist Studies Association Task Force on Fair Use, serves as copyright advisor to numerous academic journals and projects, and acts as general counsel for the International James Joyce Foundation. He also serves on the advisory board of the National Library of Ireland and has assisted with proposed copyright legislation for the Republic of Ireland and other copyright issues affecting Irish cultural institutions. 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 at the College of Law, and in 2010-11 received The University of Tulsa's Outstanding University Teacher Award.

Research Interests

His publications on authorship, copyrights, and the public domain include James Joyce and the Language of History: Dedalus’s Nightmare and Without Copyrights: Piracy, Publishing, and the Public Domain, both with Oxford University Press.

Teaching Interests

Copyrights and Intellectual Property; Contracts
Constitutional Law; Wills and Trusts; Internet Law; Obscenity Law and Civil Forfeiture; Law and Literature; Modern British, Irish, and American authors; Literary and legal history and theory; and 20th-century war literature.


  • The Dying Sorcerer: Poems by Omar Pound (R. Spoo ed., Tarlane Press 1985).

  • Contributing Author, Copyright Law: A Practitioner’s Guide (Bruce P. Keller et al. eds., Practising Law Institute revs. 10-12/2009-2012).

  • Modernism and the Law (Bloomsbury (2018).

  • A Bibliography of Criticism on Joyce and History, 28 James Joyce Quarterly (special issue on Joyce and History) 903-933 (1991). Also published in Joyce and the Subject of History (Mark Wollaeger, Victor Lufti, & Robert Spoo eds., Univ. of Michigan Press 1996).

  • The Cacophony of Writing Styles in ‘Aeolus, in Bloom’s Major Novelists: James Joyce (Harold Bloom ed., Chelsea House 2002). Reprinted from James Joyce and the Language of History: Dedalus’s Nightmare (Oxford Univ. Press 1994).

  • Copyright, Fair Use, Fair Dealing, and Scholarship, Bloomsday 100, Proceedings of the centennial Bloomsday week in Dublin, Ireland, June 2004.

  • Uncanny Returns in ‘The Dead’, in Dubliners: New Casebooks Series (Andrew Thacker ed., MacMillan-Palgrave 2005): 135-55. Reprinted in revised form from Uncanny Returns in ‘The Dead’: Ibsenian Intertexts and the Estranged Infant, in Joyce: The Return of the Repressed (susan Stanford Friedman ed., Cornell Univ. Press 1993): 89-113.

  • Introduction to Omar Shakespear Pound: A Bibliography</span (Cameron McWhirter & Randall Ericson eds., Hamilton College Library 2008).

  • Tres mitos para envejecimiento de los copyrights: Titono, Dorian Gray, Ulises (Three Myths for Aging Copyrights: Tithonius, Dorian Gray, Ulysses, Iris Bernal and Ernesto Bottini trans.), 1 Funcion Lenguaje: Revista Multidisciplinar 11 (2011).

  • Ezra Pound’s Copyright Statute: Perpetual Rights and the Problem of Heirs, in Copyright Law Volume II: Application to Creative Industries in the 20th Century (Brian Fitzgerald & Benedict Atkinson eds., Ashgate 2012). Previously published in 56 UCLA L. Rev. 1775 (2009) and also appearing in Copyright Law Anthology: 2010 Edition (Rodney A. Smolla ed., Thompson Reuters West, 2010).

  • Ulysses as Deodand: Books, Automobiles, and the Law of Forfeiture in Joyce and the Law (Jonathan Goldman ed., 2017)(Gainsville, FL, 2017).

  • The Novel and the Law, in The Cambridge Companion to the Novel (Eric Bulson, ed., 2018).

  • Reviewing Authors in Court: Scenes from the Theater of Copyright , Mark Rose, 8 IP Law Book Review 1 (2017).

  • A Bibliography of Criticism on Joyce and History, 28 James Joyce Quarterly (special issue on Joyce and History) 903-933 (1991). Also published in Joyce and the Subject of History (Mark Wollaeger, Victor Lufti, & Robert Spoo eds., Univ. of Michigan Press 1996).

  • Why Public Performances of James Joyce’s Works Are Not a Thing of the Past.” James Joyce Quarterly, Vol. 41 (Summer 2004): 619-25. Also published in International James Joyce Foundation Newestlatter (Summer 2006): 4-6 and James Joyce Literary Supplement, Vol. 20 (Spring 2006): 2-3.

  • Rose Macaulay, in An Encyclopedia of British Women Writers (Paul & June Schlueter eds., rev. ed. 1998) (1988).

  • Recent Developments Concerning Anti-SLAPP Motions, (with Sean M. SeLegue & Rebecca M. Kahan), California Lawyer (Dec 2007): 39-42.

Courses Taught

  • Steal This Course: Piracy

Awards & Honors

  • 2014 Tulsa Copyright “Lawyer of the Year”
  • 2014 Tulsa Copyright "Lawyer of the Year"
  • 2014 Tulsa Copyright "Lawyer of the Year"
  • 2014 Tulsa Copyright "Lawyer of the Year"
  • 2014 Tulsa Copyright "Lawyer of the Year"
  • Corpus Juris Secundum Award for Scholastic Excellence in Property
  • Kenneth L. Brune Award
  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • Lucia R. Briggs Distinguished Achievement Award
  • 2014 Tulsa Copyright "Lawyer of the Year"
  • Outstanding Upper-Class Professor
  • Outstanding Teacher Award
  • University Outstanding Teacher
  • Outstanding First-Year Professor
  • CALI Excellence for the Future Awards in Ciovil Procedure II; Property; Legal Authoritites; Legal Reasoning and Writing; Introduction to Advocacy
  • Elected Editor-in-Chief, Tulsa Law Journal, Volume 34
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America: Intellectual Property Law; Copyright