From the Inside Flap
"Anyone who cares about protecting the vitality of art and democratic culture in the digital age should read this important book." Pete Seeger The stories would seem silly, embarrassing, or flat–out hilarious, if they weren′t so frightening: ASCAP trying to charge the Girl Scouts for the rights to sing songs around a campfire; J.R.R. Tolkien′s estate threatening to sue a children′s entertainer for calling himself "Gandalf the Wizard Clown"; the J.M. Smucker Company accusing a competitor of infringing its patent on a crustless peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And, if you want to poke fun at Mickey Mouse, Barbie, or Miller Lite, you′d better have a battery of lawyers to back you up. In Brand Name Bullies, David Bollier reveals the countless ways in which creativity, innovation, and free expression in American culture are under relentless assault from a new and rapacious breed of corporate bullies. He offers scores of examples of how copyright and trademark owners are using political influence, high–powered attorneys, and out–and–out intimidation to expand their control over our culture. Bollier argues that the free flow of knowledge and ideas is crucial to creativity and progress in every field. Yet this essential ability to share and build upon the work of others is being stifled, marginalized, and criminalized by the forces of privatization. He cites numerous outrageous claims of "ownership" to all sorts of images, words, musical notes, letters, and even smells. Did you know that it is illegal to name a sporting event the "Gay Olympics" or a portable toilet business "Here′s Johnny!"? The drive to copyright and trademark virtually everything has a powerful impact on public discourse as well. Bollier uncovers attempts to lock up sports scores, bestseller lists, historic facts, and even Martin Luther King Jr.′s "I Have a Dream" speech. Beware of using the phrase "Freedom of Expression"! A Massachusetts college student has already applied for and received a registered trademark for those words. Brand Name Bullies makes a powerful case that the rapid and ongoing expansion of "intellectual property rights" is squelching creativity and limiting free expression. It prevents the creation of new music, art, and literature, and it inhibits new scientific research and business investment. This highly readable and chilling exposé sounds an urgent wake–up call for everyone who values our culture and wishes to keep the public domain out of the hands of the privatizers.
From the Back Cover
Critical Acclaim for David Bollier′s Silent Theft "Provocative. . . . always on target." Newsweek "This beautifully written, carefully argued book shows how little we learned from the past. Free and open resources have always been central to creativity and growth; Bollier shows how in a range of important contexts, free and open resources are being enclosed, to the benefit of the corporate class, and burden of Americans generally." Lawrence Lessig, author of Free Culture "Get[s] at what I think is the fundamental, primary political issue that can be the underlying value for regenerating progressive politics in our country, and that value is the common good versus private greed." Jim Hightower, The Texas Observer "Silent Theft raises the kinds of questions that Washington typically represses. The book broaches issues that very likely are going to drive the next big turn of the political wheel. Silent Theft confirms the brooding sense, shared by many, of a system out of control." The Washington Monthly "Bollier sees a relentless commercial assault on what he calls ′the commons,′ resources that should be free to all but, increasingly, are being co–opted for the corporate good." Business 2.0 "Bollier′s handling of this complex set of issues is both deft and straightforward. The more people who read Silent Theft, the better our world." Norman Lear