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“Intellectual property law in the United States does not work well and it needs to be reformed,” Professor Jason Mazzone argues in his new book, Copyfraud and Other Abuses of Intellectual Property Law, published by Stanford University Press. “The issue is not that intellectual property rights are too easily obtained, too broad in scope, and too long in duration. Rather, the primary problem is overreaching by publishers, producers, artists, and others who abuse intellectual property law by claiming stronger rights than the law actually gives them.”
In his book Mazzone identifies a wide variety of overreaching claims of intellectual property rights. These range from phony copyright notices (which he dubs “copyfraud”) attached to reproductions of the U.S. Constitution and other public domain works to lawsuits designed to prevent people from poking fun at Barbie, and from controversies over digital sampling in hip-hop to Major League Baseball's ubiquitous restriction on sharing any "accounts and descriptions of this game."
“Although the copyright system has its roots in the U.S. Constitution and is designed to promote and reward creativity on an 'honor' system, the copyright laws themselves have been hijacked and exploited by less than honorable people,” says Music Hall of Famer, George Clinton, whose case is profiled in the book.
Mazzone skillfully articulates that overreaching interferes with legitimate uses and reproductions of a wide variety of works, imposes enormous social and economic costs, and ultimately undermines creative endeavors. The solution, he maintains, is not to change the scope or content of intellectual property rights, but to create mechanisms to prevent people asserting rights beyond those they legitimately possess.
This is the first book of its kind to examine overreaching as a distinct problem and Mazzone makes a series of timely proposals by which government, organizations, and ordinary people can stand up to creators and content providers when they seek to assert more than the law gives them. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales calls Mazzone’s book “a must read for anyone who cares about the future of creativity.”
While current debates about the proper role and reach of intellectual property rights in the modern information society have reached an impasse, Mazzone argues that the way to enhance the public domain is “not by limiting the scope and duration of intellectual property rights, but by developing mechanisms to keep those rights within their designated limits.” There doesn’t need to be a choice made between the rights of creators versus the interests of the public, he argues, because there are effective ways to protect both.
Jason Mazzone is the Gerald Baylin Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School. He teaches intellectual property law and constitutional law. A renowned legal scholar, he has written about legal issues for national newspapers and he is a frequent commentator in the media.
Learn more about Copyfraud.
Read more about Copyfraud on Send2Press, Publishers Newswire, the Technology Academics Policy blog, and Mario Armstrong blog.