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Professor James Griffin

Associate Professor


01392 723194

Amory 111

Associate Professor Griffin's main area of research relates to the impact of Intellectual Property laws upon digital technology. He has published articles on the role of authors in the digital environment, such as The evolution of authorship under technology: implications for copyright law in the IPQ and Copyright in Music in Legal Studies. A monograph has been published which looks at the function of creativity within the development of society. A collection of works investigating 3D printing in China was published in 2018. A monograph is forthcoming about the role of biology in culture and the development of quantum and biological computing. He is the editor of Merkin and Black, Copyright and Design Law. Current research interests include copyright and rationality, copyright and technology, memes and copyright, communicative theory and copyright, art and the law, and interdisciplinary research into creativity. Professor Griffin is also invovled with the development of novel technologies.

Professor Griffin, in conjunction with staff from Exeter, Durham, Sussex, Nottingham Ningbo (China), SLM (Singapore) and CUPL (Beijing, China) was funded by the AHRC China Digital Copyright and IP Law Research Centre to investigate digital licensing of 3D printed content as cited by the Minister for Intellectual Property. This work was being carried out with BILETA ( Professor Griffin was also funded by the EPSRC/ESRC with colleagues from Sussex, Swansea and Loughborough to look into 3D printing and RDM (c.£57,000). Professor Griffin has previously carried out funded research into copyright reform for BILETA, and into the role of the Digital Copyright Exchange for the SLS. Professor Griffin obtained his PhD from Bristol University, who kindly awarded him an annual scholarship and also a GTA position, without which his academic career would not have been possible.

He has provided advice to Guangzhou IP Office, and in the UK has acted as an advisor regarding protection of digital systems in electronic warfare. He has also written a Home Office report. He is currently the treasurer of BILETA, and is a member of the SLS Council. He also acts as Associate Editor for IRLCT and is the book editor for EJLT. He has featured in the international press for his research. Professor Griffin is also the Director for the link between the Chinese University of Politics and Law, Beijing, and the School of Law, and has helped develop the relationships and placements in Beijing & Shanghai law firms for law school students. He acts as the Law lead in the ESRC SWDTP doctoral college. Professor Griffin has also acted as external examiner at the University of Liverpool, the University of Northumbria, Sheffield Hallam University, Queen Mary, Anglia Ruskin Cambridge, and Bristol University. 

Professor Griffin has successfully supervised a number of PhD students to completion on research concerning copyright and databases, and currently supervises 17. He welcomes discussion with any potential PhD students and is willing to give advice with regard to IP PhD applications. He is the director of doctoral studies. He has undertaken numerous external and internal examining of PhDs (>100). 

For media appearences please see the 'External Engagement and Impact' tab.


Successful Funding:

2021-2023 Li Dak Sum Innovation Fellowship (Co-I)  基于 3 D 打印数字水印技术和区块链技术的 3 D 打印 鉴权平台设计与应用研究 with Chan (PI), Hao and Zeng (Nottingham Ningbo) RMB 500,000 (c.£57,000).

2021-2023 AHRC (PI) 3D printing in China AH/V015761/1 - impact - with Chan (Nottingham Ningbo), Osuji (Essex) and Umbach (Nottingham) - £82,218

2020 ESRC (Co-I)  AI in 3DP arbitration with K Nousia - 3D printing and AI - £10,462

2016-2019 Google - administrator of annual Google travel fund for BILETA conference - £5,000 p.a. (2016), £6,000 p.a. (2017+)

2015-2017 AHRC-Newton Fund-Ningbo Science and Technology Bureau (PI)  3D printing in China  – with Chan (Nottingham Ningbo), Choo (Nottingham Ningbo), Jones (Durham), Li (Sussex), Li (CUPL, Beijing), Osuji (Essex), Mok (SLM), Zhu (Nottingham Ningbo) £97,000.

2016 EPSRC (Co-I) with Li (Sussex), Faulkner (Sussex), Medcalf (Loughbourgh) 3D Printing and RDM EP/M017656/1– c.£57,000

2016 Internal University of Exeter Award - to develop impact - £1000

2014/5  BILETA – 3D Printing Workshop - £595

2012 SLS – Digital Copyright Exchange – £1275

2012 EPSRC - The relationship between 3D printing and intellectual property law. With Charlotte Waelde, Liang Hao, Richard Everson £4,046

2011 – RIVENTA - A small £400 grant for research into copyright.

2011 – EPSRC - Water Recycling in Urban Areas, 2011. With F Memon, S Hughes, N Smirnoff, N Hawkins, S Barr & A Nayak - £5000

2011 -  EPSRC “The relations between creativity in mathematical & biological systems, creativity as a mental process, & creativity in the social world.” With Anna Craft, Robin Durie, Pete Ashwin, Ed Keedwell, Katrina Wyatt, Andy Wills, Kerry Chappell, & Varuni Wimalasiri - £5500

2011 - BILETA – Copyright Reform – £2939

2008 - SELEX - Copyright / Licensing  (Contract Consultancy Research) - £2400

2003 - Home Office -  European Procurement Guidelines Project for the National E-Public Procurement Supplier Adoption and Economic Development programme  -£10,000.

2002-2005 University of Bristol, Law Department PhD Scholarship Award (Scholarship & GTA)


With Chan H, Guo M, Zeng F, Chen Y, and Xiao T, Blockchain-enabled authentication platform for the protection of 3D printing intellectual property: a conceptual framework study, 17 Enterprise Information Systems 2180776 [2023]

With Walsh K, Wallace A, Pavis M, Olszowy N, Hawkins N. Intellectual Property Rights and Access in Crisis. 52 IIC International Review of Intellectual Property and Competition Law 379 (2021) 

'The enforcement of laws regulating digital cultural content: A proposal' 35 International Review of Law, Computers and Technology 70 (2021)

With Jones A, 3D Printing and the Right to Privacy, EJLT [2020] (1) (3)

 3D printing: A sui generis right for the convergent technology, [2019] IPQ 25.

 A proposal for a bridge of licensing over a sea of IP uncertainty: Digital Watermarking of 3D Printed Content’ in Chan, Choo, Griffin and Osuji (eds), Intellectual Property Rights and Emerging Technology: 3D printing in China (Routledge, 2018)

 ‘Biotech 3DP Digital Watermarking: An ‘uncanny valley’ in the Prosthetic State’ in Chan, Choo, Griffin and Osuji (eds), Intellectual Property Rights and Emerging Technology: 3D printing in China (Routledge, 2018)

 ‘We become what we think: Machine laws in machine minds’, in Chan, Choo, Griffin and Osuji (eds), Intellectual Property Rights and Emerging Technology: 3D printing in China (Routledge, 2018)

 Chan, H.K., Griffin, J., Lim, J.J., Zeng, F., The impact of 3D Printing Technology on the Supply Chain: Manufacturing and Legal Perspectives" 205 International Journal of Production Economics 156 (2018).

 Chan, H. K., Griffin, J., Lim, J. J., Zeng, F., & Chiu, A. S. F.  Impact of 3D Printing Technology on Supply Chain in China. Proceedings of the 24th International Conference on Production Research, DEStech (2017) 492-495.

 “A proposal for a doctrine of Information Justice”[2016] IPQ 44.

 With Romero-Moreno, F., "The UK's criminal copyright proposals in an era of technological precision", 7 EJLT 2 (2016)

 “Exploding cultural regulation: what the memetic can(n)non offers regulators” 20 Communications Law 120 (2015)

  “The Future of Technological Law: The Machine State” 28 International Review of Law, Computers and Technology 299 (2014) [in memory of Professor Jon Bing]

 With Li, P., Mellor, S., Waelde, C., Hao, L., Everson, R., “Intellectual Property and 3D Printing: A case study on 3D chocolate printing” 9 Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice 322 (2014)

 With Nair, A., “The regulation of pornography: Teleology (in)action” [2013] International Journal of Law and Information Technology 1

 With Nair, A., “Scientia potentia est: Making threats of copyright infringement”, 27 International Review of Computers, Law and Technology 1 (2013)

 “Copyright evolution - Creation, Regulation, and the Decline of Substantively Rational Copyright Law,” Intellectual Property Quarterly [2013] 234

 “Making a new copyright economy: A new system parallel to the notion of proprietary exploitation in Copyright” [2013] Intellectual Property Quarterly 69

 “The Digital Copyright Exchange: Threats and Opportunities” 27 International Review of Computers, Law and Technology 5 (2013)

 “The nature of the interface between copyright and contract: A new approach” 2(1) European Journal of Law and Technology 5 (2011)

 “Copyright in Music: A role for the principles of reverse engineering”, 30 Legal Studies 653 (2010)

 “300 years of copyright law: Time for a Change?”, 28 John Marshall Journal of Computer and Information Law 1 (2010)

 “The architecture of copyright law”, [2010] Intellectual Property Quarterly 380

  “An historical solution to the legal challenges posed by peer-to-peer file sharing and digital rights management technology”, 15 Communications Law 78 (2010)

 “The Digital Economy Act 2010 and the impact on semiotic certainty” 24 International Review of Law, Computers and Technology 251 (2010)

 "A review of the Digital Economy Acy 2010" [2010] 7 DASLS 15.

 “The rise of the digital technology ‘meritocracy’: legal rules and their impact” 15(3) Information and Communications Technology Law 211 (2006)

 “Interactivity and digital works: how legal rules are restricting our ability to use digital works as a communications medium” 20(3) International Review of Law, Computers and Technology 301 (2006)

 “The ‘secret path’ of Grokster and Corley: Avoiding liability for copyright infringement” 10(5) Communications Law 147 (2005)

 “The need for a new paradigm in IP Law: A focus on authorship” 14(3) Information and Communications Technology Law 269-278 (2005)

 “The evolution of authorship under technology: implications for copyright law" Intellectual Property Quarterly (2005) 135-154

"Why the European Court of Justice is no longer running wild: The three fears", 1 International Affairs Society Journal 8 (2004) (on-line journal)

"Questions, Questions, Questions", 92 Amiga Format (1996) #AMIGAAAA!

"Book review: Media Law and Policy in the Internet Age", 9 EJLT 3 (2018) 

"Book Review: Concepts of Music and Copyright" 29 Ent LR (2018)70; 40 EIPR 285 (2018).

"Book Review: Research handbook on digital transformations" 8 EJLT 2 (2017)

“Book Review: Harmonizing European Copyright Law: The Challenges of Better Lawmaking” 16 Journal of Computer, Media and Telecommunications Law 43 (2011)

“Book Review: Emerging Issues in IP” 14 Journal of Computer, Media and Telecommunications Law 35 (2009)

“Book Review: A User’s Guide to Copyright” 11 Journal of Computer, Media and Telecommunications Law 142 (2006)

“Book Review: In the Public Interest” 11 Journal of Computer, Media and Telecommunications Law 67-68 (2006)

“Book Review: Copyright and Free Speech” 10(4) Journal of Computer, Media and Telecommunications Law 142-143 (2005)

“Book Review: Intellectual Property in the new Millennium: Essays in Honour of William R. Cornish” 10 Journal of Computer, Media and Telecommunications Law 106-107 (2005)

Editorials: Griffin & O'Boyle, 37 IRLCT 1 (2023); Griffn & Romero-Moreno 14(1) EJLT (2023); Griffin, 35 IRLCT 1 (2021); Griffin, Maharg & Nair, 9(2) EJLT (2018); Griffin & Goncalves, 9(1) EJLT (2018); Griffin & Nair, 8(2) EJLT (2017).


(ed) Merkin and Black, Copyright and Design Law, Sweet & Maxwell (2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 editions)

The State of Cultural Biology: Regulating Biological Compute (Edward Elgar, forthcoming 2023/4)

The State of Creativity: The Future of 3D Printing, 4D Printing and Augmented Reality (Edward Elgar, 2019)

with Chan, Choo and Osuji, Intellectual Property Rights and Emerging Technology: 3D Printing in China (Routledge, 2018)

with Nair, A., and Ying, J., “Intellectual Property Law” Hodder Arnold, 2007

“Intellectual Property Law Guidebook” ITC, 2007 & 2008 editions (ed.)


With Barker, K., Collingwood, L., and Romero-Moreno, F., Review of the Computer Misuse Act, BILETA response to the UK Home Office,  BILETA, 2023.


With Denoncourt & Blakely, Artificial Intelligence and IP: Copyright and Patents, BILETA response to the UKIPO, BILETA, 2022.


With Barker, K, & Basu, S., Tech and the Future of UK Foreign Policy, BILETA, 2021.


Patent over 3DP watermarks - CN-107330844B (2020). 


With Romeo-Moreno, Charlesworth, Harbinja, Leiser, & Schafer, BILETA response to the White Paper on Artificial Intelligence – a European approach to excellence and trust, BILETA, 2020.


With Romero-Moreno, BILETA response to the EUIPO Consultation on Strategic Plan 2025 stakeholder consultation, BILETA, 2019. 


With Romero-Moreno, P, and Gillen M., BILETA Response to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s ‘Fake news’ inquiry, BILETA, 2017.

With Li, P, Faulkner, A., Medcalf, N., Mass customisation governance: regulation, liability, and intellectual property of re-distributed manufacturing in 3D bioprinting, EPSRC, 2017.

With Romero-Moreno, P., Consultation Response – BILETA reply to the EC consultation on the evaluation and modernisation of the legal framework for the enforcement of IPRED - 2016

With Romero-Moreno, P., Consultation Response – BILETA reply to the Criminal Copyright Provisions – 2015

With Osuji, O., Kok, A., Gillies, L., Consultation Response – BILETA reply to the European Commission Public consultation on contract rules for online purchases of digital content and tangible goods  – 2015

Contributor to the Copyright User Licensing Pages – 2014

With Mendis, D., Consultation Response – BILETA reply to the EU Copyright Treaty – 2014

Advised the Chinese Guangdong Intellectual Property Office about UK law – 2013

Response to EC Consultation on Green Paper on the Online Distribution of Audiovisual Works in the European Union: Opportunities and Challenges towards a Digital Single Market, IPFF, 2011.

Review of the Digital Economy Act, DASLS, 2010

Response to Consultation on legislative options to address illicit P2P file-sharing, 2008.

Lutkenhouse, S., Ying, J., "Best Value, EC Treaty and EU Regulations", NePP Supplier Adoption & Economic Development, Home Office (2003)

Conference Papers / Presentations (selected):

New Technologies and IP, University of Dresden, Germany, April 2023.

Quantum Computing and Copyright Law, Amsterdam Law and Technology Institute, VU Faculty of Law, BILETA, April 2023.

Copright protection of 3DP watermarks in the new technology era, Fudan University, Shanghai, March 2023.

With Mu, Xiaochen, Copyright protection of new objects of rights in the digital economy era, Ningbo, March 2023.

Quantum watermarking, Quantum watermarking workshop (AHRC AH/V015761/1), University of Exeter, October 2022. 

International Perspectives of Copyright Law, General Kotelawala Defence University, Colombo, Sri Lanka, September 2022.

3DP watermark licensing practitioner day training session (UK section; AHRC project), June 2022.

IP Law and New Technologies: 4D Printing and Quantum Computing, University of Dresden, Germany, April 2022.

Introductions / Conclusions as Conference Chair, BILETA Conference, University of Exeter, April 2022.

How an automated 3DP licensing platform works, BILETA Conference, University of Exeter, April 2022.

Technologies for digital innovation in international trade finance: Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies, DLT, OCR AI and Robotics, College of Law Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Qatar, March 2022.

With HK Chan, Designing an Authentication Platform based on the patented 3D printing digital watermarking technology and blockchain technology, University of Nottingham, Ningbo, China, March 2022.

3DP in China - an example of impact, University of Essex, July 2021.

Watermarks and digital licensing, IBM workshop, June 2021.

Brexit and Copyright Law, Dresden University, May 2021.

3D printing and PPE, Queen Mary, London, June 2020.

The State of Creativity, BILETA online conference, April 2020.

3D printing and watermarking, IRC, General Kotelawala Defence University, Colombo, Sri Lanka, 2019.

The future of biotech regulation - new modes of thought, University of Belfast, 2019.

The Uncanny Valley for biotech watermarking, University of Aberdeen, 2018.

 With Nair, A., Privacy and Porn: Copyright law and unjustified threats, University of Aberdeen, 2018.

Report on the 3D printing project, University of Nottingham Ningbo, China, June, 2017

Licensing of 3DP copyright content, invited lecture to LLM students, Bournemouth University, May 2017

3D Printing and Watermarking, SCuLE Staff Seminar, University of Exeter, May 2017.

3D Printing and Automated Licensing Systems, BILETA, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal, April 2017.

3D Printing and Licensing, China Electronic Information Expo: International Symposium on 3D printing and Internet of Things, Shenzhen, China, April 2017

3D Printing - AHRC Project Report, University of Nottingham, February 2017 

Tracking Technologies in 3D Printing, Building Digital Identities Workshop, University of Exeter Science Park, February 2017.

3D printing and watermarking: FInal Conclusions from the AHRC Project, AHRC 3D Printing in China Conference, Shanghai, December 2016.

With Jones, A., The Future of Privacy in a world of 3D printing, IALS, London, 2016.

Watermarking and biotech printing, EPSRC Project - Mass customisation governance of re-distributed manufacturing, 1 Kemble Street, London, 2016.

The regulation of biotech 3D printing, Taiwan Representative Office UK, London, 2016.

The need for a doctrine of information justice, SLS, University of Oxford, 2016.

3D printing – the future of dissemination, AHRC Workshop on 3D Printing, University of Nottingham Ningbo, China, 2016.

The findings of the AHRC empirical study on automated licensing of 3D printed products in China, University of Nottingham Ningbo, China, 2016.

With Li, P., The necessity of ‘privacy justice’ in the era of technological regulation, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland, 2016.

With Li, P., The regulation of 3D printing in China, Central South University, Changsha, China, 2016

The concept of a sui generis right for 3D printing, University of Hertfordshire, 2016

The use of technology to regulate Intellectual Property, University of York, 2015

The legal challenges of 3D and 4D printing, Dresden University of Technology, Germany, 2015 (invited speaker)

Intellectual Property, Regulation and Future of the Internet, University of Exeter, 2015 (invited speaker)

The rise of the legal identifier, IBM Showcase, University of Exeter, 2015 (invited speaker)

With Hao, L., 3D printing: A case study and watermarking technologies, University of Bournemouth, 2014 (invited speaker)

SLS Funded Qualitative Research about the Digital Copyright Exchange, SLS Conference, University of Nottingham, 2014

 With Mendis, D., BILETA Reply to the EU Consultation on the EU Copyright Treaty, University of East Anglia, 2014

 Copyright Reform, BILETA, University of Liverpool, 2013

A proposal for a new system parallel to the notion of proprietary exploitation in copyright, Society of Legal Scholars, University of Bristol, 2012

Too many laws, too few examples: Copyright Evolution, BILETA, University of Northumbria, 2012

Copyright Evolution: Creation, Exploitation, Rationalisation, BAAS, University of Manchester, 2012 (invited speaker)

Copyrights and Contracts, GikII VI, IT University, Göteborg, Sweden, 2011

A uniform test for Intellectual Property, Sheffield Hallam University Staff Seminar, 2010 (invited).

Intellectual Property: A unified test? [but with an emphasis on the concept of property and autopoiesis], Jean Monnet Seminar Series in the Information Society, University of Exeter, Jean Monnet Seminar Series in the Information Society, University of Exeter 2010

Rethinking IP theory, Chinese University of Politics and Law, Beijing, 2009 (invited speaker)

Age of Digital Convergence, Hong Kong University, 2009 (invited session chair)

University of Cambridge Roundtable discussion, University of Cambridge, 2009 (invited participant)

International Studies in IP law, Institut fur Geistiges Eigentum, Wettbewerbs und Medienrecht, University of Dresden, Germany, 2009 (invited participant)

A new approach for the justification of copyright in the digital era?, GIKIII, Oxford Internet Institute, 2008 (invited speaker)

The Role of ‘Ancient Regulation’ in a Copyright LLM Course, European Intellectual Property Teachers Network, University of Newcastle, 2008 (invited speaker, a write up is available at )

Copyright: What happened to creativity?, BILETA, Glasgow Caledonian University, 2008

Should we have an exemption for transformative works in the Information Society Directive?, BILETA, University of Hertfordshire, 2007

Grokster – the end of p2p networks? A practical and theoretical analysis SLS Conference, Keele University, 2006

The effect of recent rulings and subpoenas on the use of p2p networks BILETA, University of Malta, Mdina, 2006

Why peer to peer file sharing should not be treated as an illegal activity, Intellectual Property Teachers' Workshop, University of Cambridge, 2005.


External impact and engagement

Mentions in the Press:


UNNC Academics Secure Intellectual Property for 3D Printing, Ningbo Times -;


Academics from China's first Sino-foreign university secure intellectual property for 3D printing -


University of Nottingham Ningbo - ; ;;;;


宁诺学者利用数字水印与区块链技术实现对3D打印作品知识产权保护 -


Blockchain per svolgere un ruolo chiave nel garantire che le leggi sul copyright possano essere utilizzate per la stampa 3D -


Forscher kombinieren digitale Wasserzeichen und Blockchain zum Schutz des Urheberrechts im 3D-Druck -


Blockchain sichert geistiges Eigentum an 3D-gedruckten Objekten -


Blockchain to ensure that copyright law can be used in 3D printing -


Rights reserved: A new digital watermarking method for 3D printing models' at


Blockchain tech set to revolutionise copyright laws for 3D printing -


University Of Exeter: Blockchain To Play A Key Part In Ensuring Copyright Laws Can Be Used For 3D Printing, India Education DIary -


Academics patent watermarking technology for use with 3D printing - ;


Spotlight on digitalising challenges of international finance processes, Gulf Times, April 2022 - 


كلية القانون بجامعة حمد بن خليفة وجامعة إسكس يناقشان التحديات في مجال رقمنة عمليات تمويل التجارة العالمية. April 2022, -


خبراء يبحثون تحديات رقمنة تمويل التجارة العالمية, Al-Rayah, April 2022 -


كلية القانون بجامعة حمد وجامعة إسكس تناقشان تحديات «رقمنة تمويل التجارة», Lusail, April 2022 -


Intellectual Property Workshop in Nottingham Ningbo, March 2022:


宁诺教授破解 3D打印模型产权保护难题:




宁诺教授破解 3D打印模型产权保护难题:




宁诺教授破解 3D打印模型产权保护难题:


寧諾教授破解 3D打印模型產權保護難題:,-experts-warn  






















































 中英携手构建在线3D打印自动化授权平台:  (video report)


(no longer accessible):


New study to tackle piracy issues caused by growing use of 3-D printers:


New study to tackle piracy issues caused by growing use of 3-D printers:


Study tackles piracy issues caused by the use of 3D printers:


New study to tackle piracy issues caused by growing use of 3D printers:






(no longer accessible):


10-year jail sentence for online piracy “infeasible, unaffordable” say academics:


You CAN'T jail online pirates for 10 years, legal eagles tell UK govt:


UK Proposes Jail Sentences For File Sharers That Are Longer Than Those Of Rapists:


Lawyers Tell UK Government You Can’t Jail Online Pirates for 10 Years:


Legal eagles warn the UK Govt they cannot jail online pirates for 10 years: (various)



Mentions in other publications:


UKIPO, 3D Printing and Intellectual Property Futures: ;


Video media:


HKSTV conference coverage: 


TV coverage with China Ningbo TV (on file)


Queen Mary University Webinar: 


KDU (Sri Lanka): 


Video at


BILETA Conference 2022:


IPR challenges from emerging technologies in China workshop, available to Exeter staff here:


Modules taught

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