StudioTulsa
3:45 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

TU's Prof. Robert Spoo Offers "Without Copyrights: Piracy, Publishing, and the Public Domain"

On this edition of our show, we're pleased to welcome back Prof. Robert Spoo, the Chapman Distinguished Chair at The University of Tulsa College of Law. Prof. Spoo's newest book, recently published by Oxford University Press, is "Without Copyrights: Piracy, Publishing, and the Public Domain." This book, as noted at the Oxford University Press website, "tells the story of how the clashes between authors, publishers, and literary 'pirates' influenced both American copyright law and literature itself. From its inception in 1790, American copyright law offered no or less-than-perfect protection for works published abroad --- to the fury of Charles Dickens, among others, who sometimes received no money from vast sales in the United States. American publishers avoided ruinous competition with each other through 'courtesy of the trade,' a code of etiquette that gave informal, exclusive rights to the first house to announce plans to issue an uncopyrighted foreign work. The climate of trade courtesy, lawful piracy, and the burdensome rules of American copyright law profoundly affected transatlantic writers in the twentieth century. Drawing on previously unknown legal archives, Robert Spoo recounts efforts by James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Bennett Cerf --- the founder of Random House --- and others to crush piracy, reform U.S. copyright law, and define the public domain. Featuring a colorful cast of characters made up of frustrated authors, anxious publishers, and willful pirates, Spoo provides an engaging history of the American public domain, a commons shaped by custom as much as by law, and of piracy's complex role in the culture of creativity."

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