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Hollywood's Copyright Wars: From Edison to the Internet (Film and Culture Series) Hardcover – April 10, 2012

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Both scholarly and readable, this will be of interest to movie history buffs and those who deal with copyright issues.

(Library Journal)

A splendid new study of the legal, technological, and aesthetic wrangling over motion picture copyright wrongs and rights, particularly timely.

(Thomas Doherty Moving Image Source)

Decherney's readable book provides a century of evidence about the complicated relationship between film, law, and power.

(Rebecca Tushnet Jotwell: Cyberlaw)

A groundbreaking study on what has been an understudied aspect of American film history.

(Jan-Christopher Horak Archival Spaces: Memory, Images, History)

Have you ever wondered if a book about copyright law could be as compelling as the Fifty Shades trilogy, but without BDSM scenes? Well, wonder no further. The answer, after reading Hollywood's Copyright Wars by Peter Decherney, is definitely yes.

(Eleonora Rosati Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice)

...an informative, well-written history of developments that have profoundly shaped American culture from Edison to YouTube. Highly recommended.


Enjoyable and engrossing... insightful.... Recommended for academic lawlibraries, undergraduate libraries, and public libraries.

(Jacquelyn McCloud Law Library Journal)

Any collection strong in Hollywood media issues needs this fine survey, which goes beyond the scenes to probe the decisions and actions that often take place outside the actual courtroom.

(The Midwest Book Review)

A richly detailed and compelling account that is a much-needed addition to the cultural and political history of copyright law. It is essential reading for media and communications scholars and students, but also highly recommended to anyone interested in copyright law.

(Burcu Baykurt Media Culture and Society)


(Film & History)

An exemplary work.

(Brian Real Film Quarterly)


I tell my students that one cannot understand how media work without understanding copyright. With deep research and lively writing, this book makes that point emphatically. Peter Decherney shows how the copyright system shaped the American film industry and how film in turn shaped copyright. This is cultural history at its best.

(Siva Vaidhyanathan, University of Virginia, author of Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How it Threatens Creativity)

There was a time when mentioning copyright drew yawns across faculty lounges and barstools, but no longer. This crucial component of our cultural infrastructure is now the topic of the day. Peter Decherney's sure-handed, able history of Hollywood and copyright gives us a rich perspective on the industry's past, present, and possible future.

(Toby Miller, University of California, Riverside, coauthor of Greening the Media)

This carefully researched and evenhanded page-turner chronicles the century-long, give-and-take among powerful studios, content creators, and evolving technology. From cutthroat business practices to hard-fought legal decisions, Peter Decherney thoughtfully charts a history that can cast individuals and conglomerates in the varying roles of victim and victimizer with rapid speed. Hollywood's Copyright Wars is an invaluable chronicle and a compulsive read―just like an absorbing and complex movie thriller.

(Warren Lieberfarb, former president, Warner Bros. Home Video)

Peter Decherney's broad knowledge of cinema history, coupled with his well-informed grasp of a century of developments in U.S. copyright law, makes this a unique and compelling book.

(Robert Spoo, University of Tulsa College of Law)

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Product Details

  • Series: Film and Culture Series
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press; y First printing edition (April 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231159463
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231159463
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,311,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Peter Decherney is Professor of Cinema Studies and English at the University of Pennsylvania. He also holds a secondary appointment at the Annenberg School for Communication and an affiliation with the Center for Technology, Innovation, and Competition at Penn Law School. He is the author or editor of five books including Hollywood's Copyright Wars: From Edison to the Internet and the forthcoming Hollywood: A Very Short Introduction. He is co-editor of the journal Critical Studies in Media Communication and has testified before the Copyright Office of the United States and filed amicus briefs in several cases, including the Supreme Court Case of Golan v. Holder. Prof. Decherney has been an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Scholar, a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies, and a U.S. State Department Arts Envoy to Myanmar. He has won multiple teaching awards, and he is a Forbes.com contributor.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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By Mere on September 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great book, very easy to understand yet thorough discussion of the topics!
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Format: 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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