Hollywood’s Copyright Wars: From Edison to the Internet (Film and Culture Series)

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Copyright law is important to every stage of media production and reception. It helps determine filmmakers’ artistic decisions, Hollywood’s corporate structure, and the varieties of media consumption. The rise of digital media and the internet has only expanded copyright’s reach. Everyone from producers and sceenwriters to amateur video makers, file sharers, and internet entrepreneurs has a stake in the history and future of piracy, copy protection, and the public domain.

Beginning with Thomas Edison’s aggressive copyright disputes and concluding with recent lawsuits against YouTube, Hollywood’s Copyright Wars follows the struggle of the film, television, and digital media industries to influence and adapt to copyright law. Many of Hollywood’s most valued treasures, from Modern Times (1936) to Star Wars (1977), cannot be fully understood without appreciating their legal controversies. Peter Decherney shows that the history of intellectual property in Hollywood has not always mirrored the evolution of the law. Many landmark decisions have barely changed the industry’s behavior, while some quieter policies have had revolutionary effects. His most remarkable contributions uncover Hollywood’s reliance on self-regulation. Rather than involve congress, judges, or juries in settling copyright disputes, studio heads and filmmakers have often kept such arguments “in house,” turning to talent guilds and other groups for solutions. Whether the issue has been battling piracy in the 1900s, controlling the threat of home video, or managing modern amateur and noncommercial uses of protected content, much of Hollywood’s engagement with the law has occurred offstage, in the larger theater of copyright. Decherney’s unique history recounts these extralegal solutions and their impact on American media and culture.

2 thoughts on “Hollywood’s Copyright Wars: From Edison to the Internet (Film and Culture Series)

  1. 1
    2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Great book for non lawyers, May 3, 2012
    By 
    Sandeep

    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: Hollywood’s Copyright Wars: From Edison to the Internet (Film and Culture Series) (Hardcover)

    I am an IP lawyer but was pleasantly surprised with clarity/ easy going writing style of this book. You do not need to be a copyright lawyer to understand the book or appreciate the excellent hard work put in by the Author.

    The book starts from early days of the Hollywood studio days and comes to the present day. To me, the most fun section to read was the first half of the book – because it talks of those old days and for which we do not see enough written on the internet or wiki.

    The early days and explanation on ‘duping’, practices of the old studios etc are described in a lucid style, with lots of case discussions and the book has some nice images as well.

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  2. 2
    0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
    1.0 out of 5 stars
    This book is extremely tedious!, February 17, 2013
    By 

    This review is from: Hollywood’s Copyright Wars: From Edison to the Internet (Film and Culture Series) (Hardcover)

    I was forced to buy this book as part of a class I was taking in college. I read through the entire book and I can honestly say it is one of the most boring books I’ve ever read. What made it even worse was that after reading the whole book I didn’t feel like I had learned anything substantial that would help me in future endeavors.

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