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New Comic Book from Duke Law Illustrates History of Musical Borrowing

Pop quiz:

  1. Have you ever posted a video on YouTube?
  2. Did you add music to it?
  3. Did someone else create that music?

If the answer to all three is yes, then congratulations — you’ve entered the complex world of copyright law, and your video might get taken down. But should it? A new comic book by Duke Law School faculty explores diverse perspectives on this thorny topic.

Theft: A History of Music illustrates (literally) how the history of musical borrowing influences today’s copyright law. Tackling topics from Bach to “Blurred Lines” and beyond, this graphic textbook synthesizes the perspectives of creators, consumers, publishers, and politicians — ultimately to examine the irony of today’s culture where accessing music is easy…but creating with it is not.

Theft: A History of Music, by James Boyle, Jennifer Jenkins, & Keith Aoki, is available as a Creative Commons-licensed download here.

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