Friday, December 31, 2010

Cummings on Music Piracy and the Remaking of American Copyright

New from Alex S. Cummings (Georgia State University) is "From Monopoly to Intellectual Property: Music Piracy and the Remaking of American Copyright, 1909—1971." Here's the abstract:
Since the 1970s critics have decried the expansion of intellectual property rights, while supporters of copyright and patent reform have argued that the protection of “information” is vital for the U.S. economy. Alex S. Cummings explores the reasons for this tension, showing how struggles over music piracy paved the way for stronger regulation of intellectual property. Lawmakers in the Progressive Era denied copyright protection for sound recordings, leaving pirates to challenge American sensibilities about monopoly, music, and the public interest. Through legal and legislative battles, a new conception gradually emerged of copyright as a safeguard for capital investment rather than an incentive for artist creation, buttressing claims about the economic needs of an “information society” in the late twentieth century.
You can find the rest in the December 2010 issue of the Journal of American History (pp. 659-81).