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Digital Copyright Pbk. Ed Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1591024200
ISBN-10: 159102420X
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Litman (law, Wayne State Univ.) offers a surprisingly readable, even entertaining dissection of 1998's Digital Millennium laws passed throughout the 20th century. Central to her exegesis is a critique of the method of drafting legislation, begun just about 100 years ago, that lets the interested parties negotiate among themselves and submit to legislators proposed amendments and revisions. She includes libraries as parties with special interests in this system and notes that the most important group consumers is inevitably not represented. And she has special disdain for her fellow Chapters jump from a historical investigation of legislative practice, to comparison of several recent technological challenges to copyright, to an explanation of how shifts in the understanding of underlying principle have shaped the law. In the end, Litman proposes a vastly simplified system but admits that "a wholesale reconceptualization of copyright law seems unlikely-. There are not many Don Quixotes in Washington." Recommended for all types of libraries. Eric Bryant, "Library Journal" Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Readers with an interest in doing business on the Internet, or in the specific issue of copyright, should not be without this book. The author, a recognized expert in copyright law, demonstrates how the World Wide Web has the potential to restructure copyright laws in the U.S. It's a tricky, complicated issue in which questions of control versus access are paramount. How, for instance, do you regulate the use of a copyrighted work when anyone who logs onto the Net can access it for free? Do you try to charge each computer user a royalty? To put all this in its proper context, Litman provides a capsule history of U.S. copyright law, showing how every development in the technology of publishing has brought further refinement and further complications to the law. At the center of the book is a single question: Do the new statutes now being proposed by copyright holders make sense? The book is quite technical in places, but it's also clearly written and sensibly argued. A timely and very useful resource. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; Pbk. Ed edition (July 5, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159102420X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591024200
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #834,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Litman's timely book, coming two years after the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) radically altered the landscape of copyright law, confronts the current issues we face involving Napster and other file sharing programs, pay-per-use efforts in the software and entertainment industries, and the seemingly arcane and counterintuitive nature of copyright law itself. Writen for the layman, it's easily understandable and a breezy, deeply interesting read for people concerned about how their rights to use the things they buy have changed and may change further in the future.
Part polemic against the encroaching magnification of corporate over individual rights to works, part history of the development of copyright law in the US, Litman's main points as a law professor specializing in copyright law involve the historical lack of representation of individual consumers' rights in the marketplace. Congress historically has simply allowed "interested parties" to collaborate on agreements that Congress then enacted into law. Unfortunately, and as Litman shows again and again, businesses and consumers not at the bargaining table got the short shrift and nascent new industries based on revolutionary technologies (such as piano rolls, movies, etc) were hindered in their development. Those involved in the copyright law negotiations (libraries, unions, and major existing industries and trade groups) tended to get limited exceptions, deals, and special exemptions, while our representatives in Congress have traditionally simply allowed them their way.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is essentially a primer on the mess we've gotten into with regards to copyrights and digital media. Litman explains both why the current copyright regime is an ill fit to the "Information Age" as well as how we got here.
Litman's explanation of how Congress has essentially abdicated its responsibilities by turning over the drafting of copyright law to the entrenched business interests is scary. But more frightening are the implications: When major chunks of our culture are locked behind individual use licenses, little room is left for innovation and creativity. The end result, I fear, will be a world where every last piece of information and our entertainment will be fed to us by Disney, Time Warner, and a few other mega-corporations. Not that I have anything against those firms, but a 35-page menu listing only variations of spaghetti is not my idea of fine dining.
Copyright used to be about a bargain - society gave limited rights to copyright owners to encourage creativity - in return society obtained building blocks for further creativity. But the model has changed - now the discussion (such as it is) is about the absolute property rights of the media company. (We don't even talk about "authors" anymore - who wrote "Finding Nemo" anyway?) The result is that the public's end of the bargain has been taken away - fair use is of little use anymore, and the first sale doctrine (which allows you to read, re-read, loan, sell, or destroy this book) has been emptied of any meaning with regards to digital media.
Litman does a great job in explaining how ugly the current copyright laws are, and she demonstrates clearly how the system threatens to stifle innovative new ways to communicate and entertain via the Internet.
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Format: Hardcover
Most of what we have read about copyright in the digital era either is optimistic about the influence of technological protection schemes superceding the more democratic system of copyright or alarmist about "theft." Litman has done us a wonderful service by explaining that there is more at work in the world of cultural and information regulation than most of us suspect.
We are in fact about to be victims of a new technological regime that will severely restrict access to copyrighted works. In clear language, Litman explains how we got into this mess.
I hope everyone who reads and writes buys this book.
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Format: Hardcover
For the last few years, I have been arguing with friends and co-workers about how the MPAA and the RIAA are quietly shaping copyright law, and not for the betterment of the American (or any) consumer. Litman explains it much better than I ever did and does so in entertaining layman's terms with plenty of real-world examples. Most consumers don't realize that copyright law has evolved from a simple "do not copy" premise to a nearly all-encompassing "do not use unless we say so" restriction. It's too bad that Litman's book isn't required reading in high schools and colleges because if today's youth realized how much their rights were being restricted, they might actually generate enough conflict to reshape the industries (computers, music, movies, television) in which they invest so much time and money.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Professor Litman tackles the dense and often counterintuitive basis of copyright law and delivers an easy to understand explanation of what copyright law is, what it attempts to accomplish, why it was deemed necessary, and how it came to be that copyright owners (e.g., the RIAA) are suing your teenage sons and daughters.

Criticisms of this book in previous reviews cite the fact that the book includes a number of journal articles cobbled together. That's fine with me - the quality of these articles are such that I don't mind the occasional restating of points made in a previous chapter - these are all issues that bear repeating! I understand that the prose is necessarily awkward at times - hey! this is copyright law, it's s'posed to be opaque!

The salient issues (for me) from this book are the following:

1. Copyright law is designed, developed and negotiated by those who have the biggest stake in making the most money.

2. The US Congress, our representative to insure that we, the public, are not shafted by unfair, restrictive copyright laws, have betrayed our trust. They are swayed by lobbyists, large campaign contributions, and rubber stamp whatever the copyright owners want. The consumer's voice (and to a great extent, the voice of emerging technologies as well!) is silent.

3. It's no longer about copying, it's about consuming.

4. The Internet (and the digital technology that accompanies it) provides copyright owners the ability to monitor, meter, enforce and control access. Fair use is (or will be) a thing of the past; "fair use" was grudgingly accepted by copyright owners mainly because preventing copying for "personal use" was deemed "unenforceable". No longer.

We as individual consumers must make our voices heard. Read this book - educate yourself.
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