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Bound By Law? (Tales from the Public Domain) Paperback – March 15, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

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This graphic-novel-format paperback is an excellent introduction to copyright law. The authors, all law professors, wanted to make copyright accessible for everyone in a form other than a law-review article. The "plot" revolves around Akiko, a filmmaker who wants to capture a day in the life of New York City. As Akiko tries to produce her film, she learns about copyright basics, including fair use, public domain, and the impact of digital technology. She also learns about the rise of the "rights culture," that is, a culture that demands a person obtain the rights to use copyrighted materials even for incidental uses for which rights were not required in the past. We leave Akiko musing over a "cultural environmental movement" that would counter the rights culture. The book, published under a Creative Commons License, which clearly spells out the rights granted to readers, is also available to be read or downloaded for free at http://www.law.duke.edu/cspd/comics. This is a fantastic approach for introducing students to copyright law, even at the middle-school level, and a must for professional development. Esther Sinofsky
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"Bound By Law stars Akiko, a curvaceous, muscular filmmaker (think Tomb Raider's Lara Croft with spiky hair) planning to shoot a documentary about a day in the life of New York City...[It] translates law into plain English and abstract ideas into 'visual metaphors.' So the comic's heroine, Akiko, brandishes a laser gun as she fends off a cyclopean 'Rights Monster' - all the while learning copyright law basics, including the line between fair use and copyright infringement." --Brandt Goldstein, The Wall Street Journal online

"An indispensable guide for the perplexed (ain't we all!) in this postmodern information age - and all in easy-to-read comics format, a stunt far more difficult than you'd think!" --Art Spiegelman

"Bound By Law riffs expertly on classic comic styles, from the Crypt Keeper to Mad Magazine, superheros to Understanding Comics, and lays out a sparkling, witty, moving and informative story about how the eroded public domain has made documentary filmmaking into a minefield." --Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing.net

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 76 pages
  • Publisher: Center for the Study of the Public Domain (March 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0974155314
  • ISBN-13: 978-0974155319
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8.3 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #183,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By book addict on May 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
It seems appropriate that the first image you see when you open this work is reminiscent of the Crypt Keeper. After all, the topic is something most people fear -- law. In fact, the specific area, copyright law, even causes the knees of some lawyers to quake.

Bound by Law? is a comic book (or graphic novel if you prefer) issued by the <a target="_blank" href="[...]">Center for the Study of the Public Domain</a> at Duke Law School. It seeks to explain to the layperson two of the thornier issues in modern copyright law for writers, musicians, artists and filmmakers.

Basically, the work (written by James Boyle and Jennifer Jenkins and illustrated by Keith Aoki) uses a documentary filmmaker to examine the impact of the doctrines of "public domain" and "fair use." The public domain is comprised of material on which copyright never existed or has expired and, hence, can be freely used by the public at large. Fair use is a statutory exception to the copyright laws that allows use of portions of copyrighted material for a variety of purposes as long as the use doesn't exceed the boundaries of a four-factor test the law establishes.

Why a comic book and a focus on documentary filmmaking? Because they are excellent vehicles for exploring the issues.

The work's filmmaker wants to make a documentary of the day in the life of New York City. She encounters what anyone would, albeit perhaps to a greater degree. Almost everywhere she goes there is copyrighted or trademarked material: music on the street or in a nightclub; a program or movie on the television in a particular room; or the logos that are ubiquitous at almost any sporting event.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Diavolo Incarnato on March 18, 2006
Format: Paperback
In August 2004, the BSA launched an "educational" campaign, "Play it safe in cyberspace". It comprised a comics whose hero, Copyright Crusader, was an ugly grabbing sanctimonious ferret. This animal version of Mackie Knife can still be seen in <a href="[...]">Ferreting out copyright scofflaws</a> by David Becker (News.com, 08/10/2004).

"Bound By Law" is far more fun, and far more informative. For instance, the authors do not only make their characters talk about fair use and parody, but they use parodies themselves, as Cory Doctorow points out in his review, <a href="[...]">Comic book brilliantly explains copyright for documentary filmmakers</a> in Boing Boing (02/03/06).

More information - and a link to the online version - in <a href="[...]">the comics page</a> of Duke Law.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 8, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Reading law is dry. Reading graphic novels is fun. Aoki, Boyle, and Jenkins have created the ultimate legal graphic novel. In about 53 pages they have illustrated to me everything I wanted to know about Fair Use of materials in the Public Domain and of copyright laws. As a videographer, I am now more educated, yet more wary of what I can and cannot use when shooting. At first, I read the whole book on line, then I realized that the information in it was too valuable not to have as a hard copy. And my bonus is that I can color the pages as I see fit while learning the law!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By K. A. Piccolo on July 6, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very insightful and informative, and a must for any artist in any facet of the industry. To know what the law actually says regarding copyrights and fair usage is key to being a successful commercial artist.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brian Rowe on December 27, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Amazing intro text to copyright. I recommend it to clients and students. This graphic novel takes the basics of copyright and explains them in simple terms. The format is ideal for teaching copyright as it enables visual examples that do not translate well to word only text. The book is also very accurate from a legal perspective. One of the advantages of this book in a class room setting is it is also down-loadable for free from Duke website. The creative commons license makes it accessible to a larger audience.

PS there is a new updated version (2008) that is basically the same. The newer version has a great intro by Cory Doctorow but is not a significant improvement for double the price.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ron Green on April 9, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Intellectual property law can be a complex and difficult topic, but this comic book approach to learning about concepts such as copyright law, fair use, trademarks, etc. makes the learning fun and understandable. Even professionals find this resource to be a helpful guide for understanding how to meet intellectual property guidelines in their daily work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K. OREILLY on November 1, 2013
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Excellent and easy to understand explanation of public domain - every film producer and film student should have this book. I bought a copy for me and one for my film school.
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By Rebekah Barlow on March 9, 2013
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This comic book will set you free!

If you are an artist, it's a must read.

If you are a law school student or lawyer, it just might be an even more important read for you.

I also recommend the similar titles - The Accidental Law Student & Theft: A History of Music!!!
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