Monday, May 7, 2007

Freedom of Expression® : Overzealous Copyright Bozos and Other Enemies of Creativity

McLeod, Kembrew. Freedom of Expression® : Overzealous Copyright Bozos and Other Enemies of Creativity. New York : Doubleday, 2005

Review by Rebecca Stuhr

I'm reviewing this book in honor of Grinnell College's new copyright policy, in which they provide authors with ideas for negotiating copyright in their publishing contracts, information on how to take full (and appropriate) advantage of the fair use provisions in the U.S. copyright law, and provide information about Creative Commons copyright licenses. The entire policy is available here:

McLeod describes himself (see his web site: as an "independent documentary filmmaker and a media studies scholar at the University of Iowa whose work focuses on both popular music and the cultural impact of intellectual property law." In his book he explores the implication of the over enforcement of patent and copyright law. McLeod explores cases such as the Fox News suit against the use of its trademarked phrase "fair and balanced." He trademarked the phrase "freedom of expression" in response to this kind of excessive trademarking--although he has now let his trademark lapse. He writes about seed companies and the patents they have on their seeds and the negative implications this has for farmers. McLeod devotes a good part of his book to the effects of the overzealous enforcement of copyright within the realm of hip-hop and sampling. Mcleod also examines the patenting of genetic code. McLeod, a specialist in the field of intellectual property law, does not oppose the protection of creative work, but sees that the level enforcement is stifling creativity and the development of new ideas--two things that the copyright law should be protecting. His book is readable and entertains at the same time that it provides a serious perspective on an important issue for scholars, musicians, scientists, artists, and anyone creating or enjoying or working with intellectual property of any kind.

There is a link to the creative commons licensed pdf of McLeod's book at this URL: and a new paperback edition of his book has been published by University of Minnesota Press under a slightly different title: Freedom of Expression®: Resistance and Repression in the Age of Intellectual Property, to appear in Spring 2007.

2nd floor KF 2979 .M348 2005

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