Freedom of Expression®

Short review: I loved this book.

Medium review: I REALLY loved this book.

Long review:

Every so often I come across a book that teaches and explains things in such a way that makes me think, “Of course! How could I not have seen it before?”

Kembrew McLeod has written just such a book. Mr. McLeod is a media activist in the best sense of the word. Freedom of Expression® is his tool to educate the masses that things make no sense.

Almost every reference he makes affects me, and quite a few other people I know. When I was in college, I worked at the school’s radio station. One of the things I’d do in the radio station was create fake interviews with people such as Fox Mulder or even the villain from an old obscure kung-fu movie and play them on my show.

No one thought anything bad would happen, and nothing did, but Mr. Kembrew relates the tale of Too Much Joy, a band that used a 5-second sample of Bozo the Clown. The red-nosed one’s lawyers descended like a lion on a hyena and filed a lawsuit against the independent band.

He further goes on to explain the muddy waters of intellectual property law. Woody Guthrie, long respected for his music actually wanted people to play his music and do with it as they pleased. But, the company who currently owns his catalog files lawsuits left and right to protect their property, even though the originator of the material (who actually borrowed melodies and lyrics rather liberally) wanted it to be free.

The same goes with the song “Happy Birthday To You.” Mr. Kembrew goes into detail about how a song written as “Good Morning To You” was transformed into “Happy Birthday To You” in the late 1800s. The sisters who wrote “Good Morning To You” (who also borrowed melody and lyric structure from other songs of the time) copyrighted the new birthday song in 1935, and then promptly filed a lawsuit against Irving Berlin who had used the song in a play in 1934.

Further, he touches upon the gridlock in the gene patenting field.

I’ve reviewed books before on this site, but, it has been too long since I’ve encountered a book that time spent not reading was spent trying to figure out how to get back to reading. This was such a book. When I reached the last page I had to let out a tear as I knew there wouldn’t be another page afterward.

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