Artists, Technology & the Ownership of Creative Content: The Book

Artists, Technology & the Ownership of Creative Content, published by the Lear Center Press, explores the new digital environment and the impact of intellectual property rights on innovation and creativity. This publication, which includes a CD-ROM, is available for purchase online from the USC bookstore.



Advance Praise for Artists, Technology & the Ownership of Creative Content

“A tour de force. Brilliantly argued, artistically rendered. This book cuts through the usual polemics on this complex and highly charged subject and engages the reader in the subtle twists and turns of the challenge the digital age forces us to re-consider how to honor and support the creative spirit.”

John Seely Brown
Former director of Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC)
Co-author of The Social Life of Information


“In producing this book, the Lear Center has done a terrible thing. It has induced the pain of thought-honest, vexing, contradictory thought. It takes the reader to the edge of a precipice, where we gaze at the digital frontier and the many unanswered questions that dangle there. This is no legal or technological tome. In tech-speak, this book is reader-friendly. The writing is clear and vivid. We are reminded that technology can either be friend or foe; that the interests of creators sometimes clash with those of consumers or corporations. There are no glib answers, just important questions for the 21st century.”

Ken Auletta
Writer, The New Yorker
Author, World War 3.0: Microsoft and its Enemies;
The Highwaymen:Warriors on the Information Superhighway;
and Three Blind Mice: How the TV Networks Lost Their Way

“Copyright and the control of creative work in the digital world is the most important policy issue that most important policy makers don’t yet begin to understand. In this book, the Lear Center has done something extraordinary: It has made understandable, to a world beyond lawyers, this vitally important topic, in a brilliant and beautiful form. Let this be the first of many such contributions to this important debate. This is, however, no doubt the first.”

Lawrence Lessig
Professor of Law, Stanford Law School
Founder, The Stanford Center for Internet and Society
Author, The Future of Ideas and Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace

“This book is built around four evocative (and amusing) thought experiments illustrating the rich confusion that now arises when we take a song or film or other creative work and try to figure out who owns it, or for that matter, who made it. The fictive cases and David Bollier’s thoughtful essays on the problems they raise make a fine toolkit for anyone concerned to bring order back to the creative communities that have been so deeply disrupted by digital technology.”

Lewis Hyde

Background on the Book and Conference

In an attempt to understand the far-reaching implications of new digital technologies for the future of creativity, the Norman Lear Center at the USC Annenberg School for Communication convened a conference on March 31, 2001, at its Los Angeles campus. The event was planned and sponsored by the Norman Lear Center, the USC School of Law, the Center for Communications Law and Policy, the USC School of Fine Arts, and the Artists Rights Foundation of the Directors Guild of America. Alan Sieroty and the USC Provost provided critical financial support. Production of this book, which summarizes and expands on the conference, was funded by a gift to the Lear Center by the Center for the Public Domain, a nonprofit organization based in Durham, NC.

Artists, Technology & the Ownership of Creative Content, part of the Creativity, Commerce & Culture project, publishes materials from the Center?s dynamic 2001 conference that examined intellectual property law in relation to creativity, technology, and ownership. The conference represented a year-long planning process by Martin Kaplan, Director of The Norman Lear Center and Associate Dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication; Erwin Chemerinsky, Sydney M. Irmas Professor of Public Interest Law, Legal Ethics and Political Science at the USC Law School; Ruth Weisberg, Dean of the USC School of Fine Arts; Elliot Silverstein, President, and Kathy Garmezy, Executive Director, of The Artists Rights Foundation; Lear Center staff Johanna Blakley, Caty Borum and Tim McKeon; and Amy Brotherton of the Artists Rights Foundation.