Brand Name Bullies: The Quest to Own and Control Culture

David Bollier, Author John Wiley & Sons $24.95 (309p) ISBN 978-0-471-67927-1
Society's growing mania to ""propertize"" every idea, image, sound and scent that impinges on our consciousness is ably dissected in this hilarious and appalling expose of intellectual property law. Bollier, author of Silent Theft, compiles a long litany of copyright and trademark excesses, many of them familiar from brief flurries of media coverage but, in his view, no less outrageous for it. Music royalty consortium ASCAP sought fees from the Girl Scouts for singing copyrighted songs around the campfire; McDonalds threatened businesses with the Mc prefix in their names; Disney threatened a day-care center that painted Mickey and Goofy on its walls; and Mattel sued a rock band that dared satirize Barbie in song. Nor is it only corporate megaliths that resort to this petty legal thuggery. Martin Luther King's estate forbids unauthorized use of his ""I Have a Dream"" speech (but rents it to Telecom ad campaigns), and the author of a completely silent composition was asked for royalties because it allegedly infringed on avant-garde composer John Cage's own completely silent composition. Bollier is a sure guide through the thickets of intellectual property law, writing in an engaging style that spotlights capitalism and its supporting cast of lawyers at their most absurd. But he probes a deeper problem: as the public domain becomes a private monopoly, he warns, our open society, which depends on the free, collective elaboration of a shared ""cultural commons,"" will wither away. Photos.
Reviewed on: 01/17/2005
Release date: 01/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-470-32375-5
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