Democracy of Sound: Music Piracy and the Remaking of American Copyright in the Twentieth Century

Cummings, Alex Sayf

Published by Oxford University Press
ISBN 10: 0199858225 / ISBN 13: 9780199858224
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Synopsis: It was a time when music fans copied and traded recordings without permission. An outraged music industry pushed Congress to pass anti-piracy legislation. Yes, that time is now; it was also the era of Napster in the 1990s, of cassette tapes in the 1970s, of reel-to-reel tapes in the 1950s, even the phonograph epoch of the 1930s. Piracy, it turns out, is as old as recorded music itself.

In Democracy of Sound, Alex Sayf Cummings uncovers the little-known history of music piracy and its sweeping effects on the definition of copyright in the United States. When copyright emerged, only visual material such as books and maps were thought to deserve protection; even musical compositions were not included until 1831. Once a performance could be captured on a wax cylinder or vinyl disc, profound questions arose over the meaning of intellectual property. Is only a written composition defined as a piece of art? If a singer performs a different interpretation of a song, is it a new and distinct work? Such questions have only grown more pressing with the rise of sampling and other forms of musical pastiche. Indeed, music has become the prime battleground between piracy and copyright. It is compact, making it easy to copy. And it is highly social, shared or traded through social networks--often networks that arise around music itself. But such networks also pose a counter-argument: as channels for copying and sharing sounds, they were instrumental in nourishing hip-hop and other new forms of music central to American culture today. Piracy is not always a bad thing.

An insightful and often entertaining look at the history of music piracy, Democracy of Sound offers invaluable background to one of the hot-button issues involving creativity and the law.

About the Author:
Alex Sayf Cummings is Assistant Professor of History at Georgia State University.

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Title: Democracy of Sound: Music Piracy and the ...
Publisher: Oxford University Press

Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: New

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Book Description Oxford University Press, 2013. Book Condition: Used. This Book is in Good Condition. Clean Copy With Light Amount of Wear. 100% Guaranteed. Summary: Democracy of Sound tells the story of the pirates, radicals, jazzbos, Deadheads, and DJs who challenged the record industry for control of recorded sound throughout the twentieth century. A political and cultural history, it shows how the primacy of "intellectual property" gradually eclipsed an American political tradition that was suspicious of monopolies and favored free competition. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_usedgood_0199858225

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Assistant Professor of History Alex Sayf Cummings
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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2013. Hardback. Book Condition: New. 239 x 157 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Democracy of Sound is the first book to examine music piracy in the United States from the dawn of sound recording to the rise of Napster and online file-sharing. It asks why Americans stopped thinking of copyright as a monopoly-a kind of necessary evil-and came to see intellectual property as sacrosanct and necessary for the prosperity of an information economy. Recordings only became eligible for federal copyright in 1972, following years of struggle between pirates, musicians, songwriters, broadcasters, and record companies over the right to own sound. Beginning in the 1890s, the book follows the competing visions of Americans who proposed ways to keep obscure and noncommercial music in circulation, preserve out-of-print recordings from extinction, or simply make records more freely and cheaply available. Genteel jazz collectors swapped and copied rare records in the 1930s; radicals pitched piracy as a mortal threat to capitalism in the 1960s, while hip-hop DJs from the 1970s onwards reused and transformed sounds to create a freer and less regulated market for mixtapes. Each challenged the idea that sound could be owned by anyone. The conflict led to the contemporary stalemate between those who believe that information wants to be free and those who insist that economic prosperity depends on protecting intellectual property. The saga of piracy also shows how the dubbers, bootleggers, and tape traders forged new social networks that ultimately gave rise to the social media of the twenty first century. Democracy of Sound is a colorful story of people making law, resisting law, and imagining how law might shape the future of music, from the Victrola and pianola to iTunes and BitTorrent. Bookseller Inventory # POW9780199858224

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