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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 10, 2005

UI Faculty Member McLeod Reads Feb. 22 On WSUI ‘Live From Prairie Lights’

University of Iowa communication studies faculty member Kembrew McLeod will read from his new book, "Freedom of Expression: Overzealous Copyright Bozos and Other Enemies of Freedom," at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 22, on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910.

The reading, hosted by Julie Englander, will be a free event at the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen on the Internet at

In "Freedom of Expression," McLeod -- who has been described as, among other things, a "professional prankster" -- covers topics as diverse as hip-hop music and digital sampling, the patenting of seeds and human genes, folk and blues music, visual collage art, electronic voting, the Internet and computer software. He connects this rapidly accelerating push to pin down everything as a piece of private property to its effects on music, art and science.

The book uses intellectual property law as the focal point to show how economic concerns are seriously eroding creativity and free speech.

William Fisher, Hale and Dorr Professor of Intellectual Property Law at Harvard University called the book "A very funny treatment of an increasingly serious problem: the use of intellectual property rights in ways that suppress instead of foster creativity."

Rosemary Coombe, author of "The Cultural Life of Intellectual Properties," wrote, "'Freedom of Expression' is one of the sharpest weapons in the culture wars being waged over the extensive protections now accorded to intellectual property. A lively read, the book brims with humor, juicy examples and the voices of those whose creativity is threatened and endangered. If you had any doubts about the way intellectual property is shaping popular culture, Kembrew McLeod will dispel them. The privatization of culture has found its most trenchant critic."

Chuck D. of Public Enemy added, "The ability of creators to parlay their expressive efforts with technology falls within a battleground that accountants, lawyers and lawmakers dictate with barbed boundaries. That's as impossible as owning the air itself, which Kembrew McLeod states and identifies clearly."

And Robert W. McChesney, the author of "The Problem of the Media," cast the book's message in stark terms: "Professor McLeod's book should be required reading for anyone concerned with having free speech and free press as the trademarks of Rupert Murdoch, Wall Street and the kingpins of Madison Avenue. The stakes are somewhat high -- like the future of our society."

McLeod is the author of "Owning Culture: Authorship, Ownership, and Intellectual Property Law" and has written music criticism for Rolling Stone, the Village Voice, Spin and Mojo. He is also the co-producer of a 2001 documentary on the music industry, "Money for Nothing: Behind the Business of Pop Music," and a documentary on intellectual property law, "Copyright Criminals," which will be completed this year.

The Department of Communication Studies is a unit of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

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