Hollywood's Copyright Wars

Hollywood's Copyright Wars by Peter Decherney

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Copyright law is important to every stage of media production and reception. It helps determine filmmakers artistic decisions, Hollywoods corporate structure, and the vatieties of media consumption. The rise of digital media and the internet has only expanded copyrights 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 Edisons aggressive patent and copyright disputes and concluding with recent lawsuits against YouTube and Universal, Hollywoods Copyright Wars follows the struggle of the film, television, and digital media industries to influence and adapt to copyright law. Many of Hollywoods 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 industrys behavior, while some quieter policies have had revolutionary effects. His most remarkable contribution uncovers Hollywoods 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 Hollywoods engagement with the law has occurred offstage, in the larger theater of copyright. Decherneys unique history recounts these extralegal solutions and their impact on American media and culture.
Publication Date:
17 / 04 / 2012

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