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Title:Book Review Authors, Users, and Pirates: Copyright Law and Subjectivity. James Meese. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2018. 240 pp. $35.00 (hardcover). (ISBN 9780262037440)
Author(s):Benson, Sara R.
Geographic Coverage:United States
Abstract:As a copyright librarian, I am often called upon to view library patrons and academic faculty members in their many different roles as defined by copyright law. On the one hand, a particular faculty member may be a copyright “user” by borrowing the work of others to display materials for educational purposes in a digitally facilitated classroom. On the other hand, the faculty member may be an author of portions of the materials she wishes to display along with the borrowed materials. Finally, the faculty member may cross the line of acceptable practices if she takes too much of another authors work and takes on the role of pirate for online course content. Thus, I inherently understand that triad of subjects defined by copyright law—author, user and pirate—are interrelated and complex. And yet, so very often in court proceedings or theoretical arguments, advocates attempt to make the roles appear highly separable, well defined, and immobile, such as the various marketing campaigns of the Copyright Clearance Center. (Copyright Clearance Center, 2016). Instead of responding to such an argument, I would simply pull out a copy of James Meese’s book and respond with this simple declarative statement: “Read this.” Meese lays out a “relational approach” providing readers with “an overarching conceptual frame that encompasses the author, user, and pirate and allows us to explore the various ways that subjectivity manifests in copyright.” (Meese, 2018, p. 8). He does so within the context of four common law countries (the US, Canada, Australia and the UK) by following the formation of these subjects throughout time with the influence of legal cases, technological changes, and changing societal cultural norms. Although other legal theorists have considered each of the three copyright categories (author, user, and pirate), they tended to focus on a “binary opposition between the author and the pirate” rather than the relational approach offered by Meese. (Meese, 2018, p. 8). As such, this book offers a new perspective on copyright law through a relational lens.
Issue Date:2018-08-06
Publisher:Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology
Genre:Book Review
Rights Information:This is a preprint of an article accepted for publication in Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology © 2018 (Association for Information Science and Technology).
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-08-06

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