RIP, Keith Aoki

Our friend, colleague, co-author and brilliant artist and scholar Keith Aoki died yesterday in his house in Sacramento.  He was 55 years old.KeKeith1ith, who in addition to being an artist was  a distinguished professor at UC Davis law school, leaves behind his wife Mona and two nine year old daughters.  Also about a million friends. We are all devastated.  A fund is being set up for the benefit of his kids.  Those who wish to pledge to it should send an e-mail to me at

Keith, Jennifer Jenkins and I created Bound By Law together.  A comic about the apparently unsexy topic of copyright law and fair use, it has sold thousands of copies and has been downloaded — for free — by more than 500,000 people worldwide.    Most law professors are lucky if their work is read by a few hundred.  Keith’s artistry meant he could reach hundreds of thousands, and could teach them about law and creaCSPDFrontCovertivity in the process.

It is hard in a few words and pictures to convey the sheer scope of Keith’s work.  Have you ever heard about so-called bio-piracy — the taking of plant genetic resources from the developing world that are then tweaked, and layered with new intellectual property rights?  Keith wrote the book on it.  Literally.  aoki0708Or did you ever wonder if aesthetics — particularly changing ideas of architecture and urban planning — had a political effect on housing patterns and segregation in American cities?  Think it would be kind of cool if someone wrote a  history of that?  Someone did.  It is called Race, Space and Place.  And it is by Keith.  Oh, and hey, it would be great if someone documented the rise of “regionalism” in US immigration politics — like the Arizonan immigration legislation.  You might want to read “Welcome to Amerizona: Immigrants Out!” Guess who wrote that. While you are at it, you could also read about critical race theory, or the distributive effects of intellectual property, or open source plant development. How about a critical  analysis of the politics of farm labor?    Try  “Pastures of Peonage?: Agricultural Concentration and Labor Migration: The Case of North America in the Early 21st Century”  Asian American electoral participation in 2008?  Keith’s got that covered too.

The thing is, I haven’t even scratched the surface.  Keith’s work is so much broader.  And it was passionate work.  Keith cared about injustice, about exclusion — something he understood on a visceral level.  Unlike some people who are great at the rhetoric of equality, but terrible at the practice, Keith’s personal behavior was a complete mirror of his political views.  He was such a gentle, decent man.  He was so humble that he treated everyone as if they were not only his equal, but practically his senior.  As I write this, I am getting e-mail after e-mail from junior scholars who explain that they just have to write to me, to contribute to this fund, because they met this really incredible guy once, or a couple of times, and they — somewhat in awe of attention from this very distinguished senior person — instead found themselves being treated with incredible kindness and respect, offered help, given advice and assistance. In the world of academia, that kind of conduct is sadly rare. As one person wrote On numerous occasions, Keith was very kind to me for no apparent reason, i.e., I hardly knew him and there was no apparent self-interest.  Though our acquaintance was brief, I would like to do something.”  I have hScreen shot 2011-04-27 at 11.07.49 AMad 20 e-mails like that this morning alone.

Keith wasn’t just an incredible scholar.  He was also a musician.  A  good one.  See the young guy at the bottom of the picture?  That’s him in Chameleons — a really interesting 80’s art rock band.  Keith Aoki, violin and guitar.  Later in life Keith would play bass in the Garden Weasels — which he with typical self-deprecation — described as “ok for a band made up of law professors.”

I knew Keith as an academic and respected him — he was a major presence in intellectual property law alone, let alone all of the other areas in which he wrote.  I helped him become an academic, offered him advice on his early work, and watched with delight as he opened his wings and soared — all the while insisting to all around him, apparently seriously, that he knew he was really an impostor in the world of academia, a fraud, an interloping artist who would be discovered any moment and given the old heave-ho.  He really never knew how much he was respected as a scholar and an intellectual.  But if I surferhave a particular insight into him and his work, it is his artistry — something that many of his colleagues know little about. [Edit — in the comments, John Perry Barlow inevitably says it much better than me.  To be a scholar of a subject — a great one —  but also to be able to draw comic books on the same theme?  “There was no one even remotely like him. It was as if Feynman had produced comix about quantum physics.”]

For some people, I am sure, Keith’s comic books seemed like a diversion from his true intellectual activities.  I have to admit, though I loved comic books as a kid, I once probably shared that feeling.  Nothing could have been further from the truth.  First of all, there was the sheer depth of Keith’s artistic references.  See the way the silver surfer emerges from a wave? Notice the stylized foam?  (click the image to see it larger)  That is a perfect rendition of Hokusai’s “Great Wave off Kanagawa” one of Japan’s most famous paintings from the early 19th century, slyly inserted into a panel about a documentary on surfers. Other references were more familiar scream— and just as brilliant in their evocation of the emotion, or the intellectual point Keith was trying to convey.

Jennifer, our coauthor, described it thus

“Sheer, playful, delightful talent – what Keith could do with a pencil or pen, the ways he transformed ideas into those stunning images, each with a unique Aoki imprint, every one was a new gift that you would need time to savor and get to know and Marvel at. In his Animated mind that Aoki library of influences, adored, stacked, sifted, understood, as only he did- “well, what I was thinking was, Jamie and Jennifer, this would be like Jamie Hernandez…., Robert Crumb,….. Jack Kirby”; it went way beyond that, this movie, that book, the whole corpus of the art history canon, or the obscure gem in that dusty corner, this 300px-Eugène_Delacroix_-_La_liberté_guidant_le_peupleperfect reference no one without his Escher scaffolding and 4D Rosetta Stone could have summoned.”  And oh, there were so, so many references.  You need to read the whole thing to realize.

The thing is we were a team. Working on our new comic on musical borrowing, we’d have these astounding Skype calls in which we’d design the pages, there would follow 30 indescribable minutes of complex musical history, copyright law,  culture jamming, and Keith would draw them.   Ever imagine having a brilliant genie to whom you could say, “Hey, give me a version of Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People that comments on the downloading war. I’d like a lawyer and a downloader locked in battle, tuning forks instead of muskets, USB kaux armes 3 for webeys instead of pistols.  Oh, and make it REALLY beautiful…”

Well if you can imagine that, you can imagine working with Keith, who produced this…  colored by our brilliant colleague Balfour Smith.  Keith “I’m a monochrome guy.”  More humility.  And Keith produced such stunning images.  There were the superb — almost eerily perfect — evocations of famous rock stars.Richards and Lennon The hilarious visual puns.  Why shouldn‘t Larry Lessig be the Statue of Liberty, leading a lost tribe of remixers to a new land? And imagine what it felt like when Jennifer and I proposed that image to him.. and the text “Give me your Wired, remixing masses, yearning to be free” and got this in return.  When Larry stepped down as chair of Creative Commons, I galarry1ve him a poster of that drawing.  I didn’t think to ask Keith to sign it because — hey, it was Keith.  I thought we’d have unlimited time to celebrate his genius.  Time makes idiots of us all.

I don’t know how we will finish the music comic now. Keith told us he wanted to finish it as his memorial — during a surreal Skype call in which he told us of his diagnosis as an apology for not having finished the most recent round of drawings.  Of course, being Keith, he was convinced he could still manage to finish the comic despite his illness.  He said he might have a year.  He swore us to secrecy, of course, not wanting “to be a burden.”  Two weeks later he was dead.  We will try to finish it — how can we not?    But how to replace the irreplaceable?  I had not previously understood the power of the mundane metaphor “heartbroken.”  Our hearts feel… broken.

Keith was fond of sly references.  In his latest article — a comic forthcoming in the Ohio Northern Law Review — Keith’s character, the same one pictured at the top of this blog post, wears a T shirt with an ever changing slogan.  The final three panels are these.


Look  closely at the T shirt.  It says “You Can’t Avoid the Void.”  And we can’t — any of us.

This is what one of the people contributing to the fund for his daughters wrote.  “But  mostly I remember how you and Jennifer would light up when describing  your work with him–and what a cool, and daring, and brilliant idea I thought it was for you to join forces with the one-and-only-comic-book-artist-slash-copyright-scholar. I suppose that’s saying something when someone’s light shines so brightly even as reflected on other people’s faces.”  That was Keith.  No, we can’t avoid the void.  But some of us shine so very, very brightly that the shadows are dispelled — at least for a while.

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011 Uncategorized

41 Comments to RIP, Keith Aoki

  1. A friend, a brilliant scholar, an amazing man, a true art warrior we lost one of the best among us.

  2. Kohel Haver on April 27th, 2011
  3. Oh, I can’t believe it. I knew Keith in Detroit, in the 70’s when he made his green structures. he was very intense and serious ( today that is known as focused).

    He was a good person. And, a renaissance man.

  4. Susan Kollins on April 28th, 2011
  5. I am sorry for all of us, but you, Jennifer and Jamie, have my particular compassion. There was no one even remotely like him. It was as if Feynmann had produced comix about quantum physics.

  6. John Perry Barlow on April 28th, 2011
  7. Keith was one in a million, Im still waiting eagerly to read “theft”, “seed wars” and some of his work I still havent picked up. I grieve alongside his friends and family.

  8. Mateus Marconi on April 28th, 2011
  9. About how many can we say that he left so many heartbroken? I haven’t spent quality time with Keith since the 1990’s but still break into tears periodically when I think about him — what a loss for all of us. Nell

  10. Nell Newton on April 28th, 2011
  11. Keith was equal parts profound, fun, altruistic, and imaginative. I feel blessed to have known him.

  12. Christine Farley on April 28th, 2011
  13. RIP Keith. Thanks for being such a punker. I read and shared your comics many times over the years.. My favorite line is still “Drop a Footnote!” the footnote crashes as an anvil down through all of the frames on the page. I also remember “gratuitous footnote to all of my colleagues,” which proceeded to mention a score of Oregon Law authored works. We were 1L’s during your first year and we couldn’t believe how unique you were. It was wonderful to be reunited recently and to see your beautiful new family. I believe that the definition of an artist is someone whose expression is indomitable. You were an artist, and fortunately for us your expressions are alive and well.

  14. John Paul Reichmuth on April 28th, 2011
  15. Keith and I from the same home town of Trenton, Michigan. He was a year older. We were not close friends, but we were friendly. We were/are both musicians (guitar) and I remember his early drawings he made in high school (he liked to use Bic pens). I lost track of him after high school until I found him recently via the internet on the UC Davis law school faculty. His death is a shock. I would like to have reconnected with him as we both lived in California for a long time, but I was unaware of this.

  16. DAJ on April 28th, 2011
  17. I will miss not seeing you down the halls of King Hall, preparing materials for your class, your sense of humor, your kindness……………… YOU.

  18. Glenda McGlashan on April 28th, 2011
  19. I knew Keith during his days in Trenton. He was a genius who worked hard. I can’t believe he is gone. Unbelievably sad loss. Even though I haven’t seen him in 0ver 30 years, I’ll miss him.

  20. Ken Burke on April 28th, 2011
  21. I am speechless, and for me, that’s really saying something. I feel so fortunate to have had an opportunity to study copyright law from him; of course if he were here, he’d say I studied with him. I remember leaving every class session in awe and wonder.

  22. Stephanie on April 28th, 2011
  23. To me, Keith Aoki will always be a talented artist and musician, a brilliant scholar, a great professor and mentor, and a REALLY cool guy. My heart and my prayers go out to his wife and children who I know he loved very much – he often told me so.

  24. Krystal Noga-Styron on April 28th, 2011
  25. To second what Jamie said, Keith was as unfathomably kind as he was talented, a polymath whose humanity might very well have been his greatest skill. The void he leaves is matched only by his legacy.

  26. Jordi Weinstock on April 28th, 2011
  27. I knew Keith many years ago in Trenton, MI. He was a good friend of my older brother. We went to see Bob Dylan together in Toronto in 1978 and on a few other dates. He always impressed me as an artist and musician and a completely unique individual. I have never been in contact with him over the years, but always admired him and never forgot him. I am shocked and saddened by his unexpected loss. I am not surprised that he accomplished great things in life. My heart goes out to his family.

  28. Marilyn (Bacon) Milewski on April 28th, 2011
  29. We miss you, Keith. I hope you are somewhere vibrating between a particle and a wave, grinning at us with your deep intelligence.

  30. Margaret Chon on April 28th, 2011
  31. I was good friends with Keith in Trenton in the early 70’s. He was such a unique person, always, always drawing till wee hours of the night, filling up on coffee to keep him awake! An amazing artist and musician and just so intelligent. Yet he had a childish side about him that would make me laugh. I always knew he would go far in life. He was a very caring, genuine person.
    It seems he has touched many lives and will be missed dearly. God bless his family and I pray that Gods Grace and Peace cover them through this difficult time.

  32. Renee (Smith) Meyer on April 28th, 2011
  33. It’s hard to believe you’re gone, I wanted to think it was one of your performance art projects, like the time you talked me into painting myself white and standing like a statue at the Detroit Art Institute. But I guess it’s true. I know it’s been decades but I always assumed that we would one day get together for late night coffee again. We packed much into our brief but intense friendship. Farewell old friend. Laugh hardy.

  34. Dwain Bacon on April 29th, 2011
  35. Keith Aoki – the quintessential gentleman and scholar. First career in fine art, then law school, followed by two years of practice in a firm, then law professor. And a great law professor.

    Also a musician. A broad thinker, a prolific scholar, and at the same time a humble and thoughtful human being.

    A true friend to students and to his academic colleagues.

    He will be sorely missed.

  36. Sammy Epstein on April 29th, 2011
  37. I knew Keith for a short period of time while we were students at Wayne State and we worked together at McGregor Memorial Conference Center. He was always cheerful and easy to get along with. Always willing to lend a hand. Very talented, yet modest. Tried to convince him to get his comics published. Sorry to see him go.

  38. Peter Fasi on April 29th, 2011
  39. […] was saddened to hear the news about IP Professor Keith Aoki’s passing today. I met him only once, but he was very warm, friendly and […]

  40. Keith Aoki « Gametime IP on April 29th, 2011
  41. I was one of the many here in Detroit, at Wayne State University, who were fellow students in the Art Department who admired Keith’s work. He was doing monumental sculptures, performing collaboratively with multi-media and sound artists, and having important shows of his work in his very early twenties. His comic books back then were biting, satirical, wryly humorous.
    I saw him as being totally focused, and was amazed but not surprised when he went into Law. Just two weeks ago I was suggesting to a colleague that he should get Keith’s comics on copyright law. As an art professor myself now, I use it in classes to explain a concept that is always confusing but completely necessary for artists to understand and utilize.

    He has never been forgotten here! There was an exhibition of Cass Corridor Art at the Elaine Jacobs Gallery of WSU; his work was prominently featured and discussed. So when the news of his death hit this area, and travelled around Facebook, it was absolutely shocking. Numbing. The conversations and anecdotes were shared amongst an arts community that has always and still does cherish its talent.

    There is a photograph posted of Keith by Sheree Rensel on Facebook of the Keith that we knew then and shall always remember….the young, cocky, sensitive, introspective, and strangely vulnerable genius boy who was just at the beginning of a glorious career.

  42. Gilda Snowden on April 30th, 2011
  43. […] so many others, we were stunned to learn that law professor, cartoonist, copyfighter and digital rights stalwart […]

  44. In Memoriam: Professor Keith Aoki | Electronic Frontier Foundation on May 2nd, 2011
  45. This is a beautiful and moving tribute. All true. Most of all that “Time makes idiots of us all.” I can’t believe I didn’t make better use of the last time I saw him. I didn’t know it would be the last. “Now” is always the right time to spend time with people who put out the positive energy Keith did. He was a mentor and a friend to me (as to so many others) and I felt his simply being in the world seemed to make the it a better, safer, funnier, more joyous place. It seems less of all of those things now. He will be sorely missed by people he never met.

  46. Tamara Piety on May 2nd, 2011
  47. I knew Keith for a few years as his student and assistant at the University of Oregon School of Law. After sitting in on one of his classes, Keith inspired me to apply to U. of O. and I ended up working for and with him on various projects, including working with the band, Negativland, on their “DisPepsi” release. Keith’s often impish and anarchistic persona never belied the fact that he was also a serious academic. He was a compassionate committed visionary and voice of the oppressed. I will greatly miss his humor, passion and FTW attitude that informed everything he did and everyone he taught. Godspeed, Sensi.

  48. Peter Vaughan Shaver on May 5th, 2011
  49. I am truly in awe of Keith. He was incredibly generous with his brilliance, humor and kindness. Such a fine fine soul. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and close friends who bear the brunt of the void left by his death.

  50. Margalynne Armstrong on May 5th, 2011
  51. […] Texte, Bilder und Musik nicht entziffern kann. Meine Leser sind darauf sicher besser vorbereitet. RIP, Keith Aoki; Jennifer Jenkins Remembers Keith Aoki. [↩]Was ist Creative Commons? […]

  52. » Blog Archive » Das Urheberrecht ist nicht komisch: Bound by Law on May 12th, 2011
  53. […] von 55 Jahren am 26. April 2011. Seine Mitautoren haben ihm wunderbare Nachrufe geschrieben. ((RIP, Keith Aoki; Jennifer Jenkins Remembers Keith Aoki.)) Aoki war wohl zuerst Künstler – Zeichner, Maler, […]

  54. Das Urheberrecht ist nicht komisch: Bound by Law | Recht anschaulich on May 13th, 2011
  55. […] 26 at 3:00 pm in King Hall. Additional tributes on Professor Aoki: the School of Law at UC Davis, The Public Domain and The Chronicle of Higher […]

  56. Keith Aoki, UCD professor and public domain crusader, 1955-2011 « CROPPED: image, art and tech news from the Visual Resources Facility @ UC Davis on May 18th, 2011
  57. […] Keith Aoki, a professor of law at the University of California, Davis, who helped create Bound by Law? Tales of the Public Domain, a comic book about copyright law and fair use, died on April 26, 2011. He was 55 […]

  58. CAA News | College Art Association » Blog Archive » Recent Deaths in the Arts | CAA on May 25th, 2011
  59. Keith was my friend in Highschool … way back in the early ’70’s …

    Like many of you that posted here, Keith was very dear to me in those years. I feel a great sense of loss, even though it’s been decades, the memories came flooding back …

    … late night coffee talks, his sweet guitar and violin, we were doing a lot of soul searching back in the day and it was lovely to bounce ideas around and explore the “meaning of life” and write poetry.

    He kept in touch on his 72 “road trip” to CA … I got letters Letters came with return addresses like 1 Universe Boulevard, Ozone Heights, Idaho, USA or a poem Keith wrote from “Somewhere-on-the-Planet Earth, USA I have to share …

    see next post … it should stand alone

    Bye Keith … you will always be in our hearts!

  60. Debbie "Haines" Kendziereski on May 28th, 2011
  61. “A Song for a Song” by Keith Aoki

    Well, don’t talk too hard
    You need your breath
    Redeem your words
    Give them life’s best.
    Make true your wants
    Let others want

    In a blazing smoke it rises
    In a blazing fire, the smoke it rises
    You don’t have to believe it, but it rises, to the sky

    It knows
    It shows
    It flows
    It grows

    Won’t you see my face
    Won’t you read my eyes
    Let’s have this the start
    Of incredible size
    Make true your song
    Let others sing


  62. Debbie on May 28th, 2011
  63. […] αφορμή τον θάνατο του Prof. Keith Aoki, έπεσε στα χέρια μου το “Bound By Law?”, ένα comic γύρω από […]

  64. Bound By Law? « amigados on June 6th, 2011
  65. I just learned
    And I am sad
    There is a hole in my heart.

  66. Jim Jeffers on August 25th, 2011
  67. I met Keith in high school and learned about so many things from him, we moved to NYC in the late 70s. When I met him he was an artist and kind of a hippie wearing a flowered shirt, dark purple tinted glasses and a medallion with long hair.
    The first time I saw him he was at school playing the fiddle very fast and singing with a Southern accent–hard to forget since it was so unique. He always talked about other people’s creative accomplishments and introduced me to the work of authors, artists, and filmmakers including Jorge Luis Borges, Richard Brautigan, Ursula K. Le Guin, Akira Kurosawa, Tony Smith, the Cass Corridor artists and others that I probably never would have known about. It was as if these creative people formed a world that Keith lived in. I appreciate all that I learned from him.

  68. Melanie McKinzie on September 5th, 2011
  69. Keith was a fellow student at Wayne State and I was in awe of his talents, wisdom, and kindness. His light shone very brightly back then and still does. Thank you, Keith.

  70. Margaret Kelly on September 10th, 2011
  71. Keith was a wonderful inspiration to me and I was shocked and very saddened to lose him. I still can’t believe it. I’m one of the many junior people (10 years ago) who Keith reached out to and provided such consistent encouragement and reinforcement. His work was an inspiration. I will be giving a lecture at Univ. of Louisville, today, which I have dedicated to Keith’s memory.

    Also there is a conference at Hofstra Law School this weekend, a portion of which is dedicated to honoring Keith including an award in his name and a panel devoted to exploring his work as a legal scholar.

  72. Audrey McFarlane on November 3rd, 2011
  73. […] died in April 2011 at age 55 – Read his book now. Wednesday, December 28th, 2011 Health, Social Progress TAGS: indigenous […]

  74. Keith Aoki’s Seed Wars | williamaveryhudson on December 28th, 2011
  75. I too went to Trenton High School with Keith. I just heard of his death on facebook and am quite saddened by the news. He was a great guy; friendly, super talented in so many ways, and of course the smartest guy I knew. Somewhere I still have some of his early comics, which I will figure a way to post if I can find them. RIP Keith

  76. Chris Johnson on January 9th, 2012
  77. I knew Keith back in his Boston days. I remember commenting to mutual friends after meeting him for the first time that I had no idea what a genius really looked like, but was pretty sure Keith fit the bill. An unbelievable musician, artist and scholar. Fair winds and following seas Keith.

  78. Brian R on February 15th, 2012
  79. Keith was in the center of the creative core in Detroit in the late 1970’s. Here are two of his comic strips from that time:

  80. Jim Pallas on September 4th, 2012
  81. Anthony Paul Farley on April 26th, 2013

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  • Macaulay on Copyright

    Macaulay’s 1841 speech to the House of Commons on copyright law is often cited and not much read.  In fact, the phrase “cite unseen” gains a new meaning.  That is a shame, because it is masterful.  (And funny.) One fascinating moment?  When Macaulay warns that copyright maximalism will lead to a future of rampant illegality, as all happily violate a law that is presumed to have lost all moral legitimacy.

    At present the holder of copyright has the public feeling on his side. Those who invade copyright are regarded as knaves who take the bread out of the mouths of deserving men. Everybody is well pleased to see them restrained by the law, and compelled to refund their ill-gotten gains. No tradesman of good repute will have anything to do with such disgraceful transactions. Pass this law: and that feeling is at an end. Men very different from the present race of piratical booksellers will soon infringe this intolerable monopoly. Great masses of capital will be constantly employed in the violation of the law. Every art will be employed to evade legal pursuit; and the whole nation will be in the plot…  Remember too that, when once it ceases to be considered as wrong and discreditable to invade literary property, no person can say where the invasion will stop. The public seldom makes nice distinctions. The wholesome copyright which now exists will share in the disgrace and danger of the new copyright which you are about to create.

    The legal change he thought would do that?  Extending copyright to the absurd length of life plus 50 years.  (It is now life plus 70).  Ah, Thomas, if only you could have been there for the Sonny Bono Term Extension debates.

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  • Mark Twain on the Need for Perpetual Copyright

    This is the second in a series of postings of material drawn from our forthcoming, Creative Commons licensed, open coursebook on Intellectual Property.  The first was Victor Hugo: Guardian of the Public Domain The book will be released in late August.

    In 1906, Samuel Clemens (who we remember better by his pen name Mark Twain) addressed Congress on the reform of the Copyright Act.  Delicious.

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  • Victor Hugo: Guardian of the Public Domain

    Jennifer Jenkins and I are frantically working to put together a new open casebook on Intellectual Property Law.  (It will be available, in beta version, this Fall under a CC license, and freely downloadable in multiple formats of course.  Plus it should sell in paper form for about $130 less than the competing casebooks. The accompanying statutory supplement will be 1/5  the price of most statutory supplements — also freely downloadable.)  More about that later.  While assembling the materials for a casebook, one gets to revisit the archives, reread the great writers.  Today I was revisiting Victor Hugo.  Hugo was a fabulous — inspiring, passionate — proponent of the rights of authors, and the connection of those rights to free expression and free ideas.

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  • “We Need To Start Seeing Other Futures..”

    Today is the second day of “Copyright Week!” Talk about a lede. That sentence has all the inherent excitement of “Periodontal Health Awareness Week” or “‘Hug Your Proctologist! No, After He’s Washed His Hands’ Week.” And that’s a shame. Copyright Week is a week devoted to our relationship with our own culture. Hint: things aren’t going well. The relationship is on the rocks.

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  • Discussion: “The Foolish War Against Song-Lyric Websites”

    Professor Alex Sayf Cummings, author of a fascinating book called Democracy of Sound: Music Piracy and the Remaking of American Copyright in the 20th Century (recommended as a  thought-provoking read)  has an interesting  post up about attempts to shut down music lyric sites such as

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  • The Top Ten List of a Conference Planner

    Academics (and others) arrange conferences.  Perfectly normal people are invited to those conferences to speak.  Most of them are just as charming as can be… but then there are the special ones.  This Top 10 List of the special people one has to respond to is devoted to all conference planners everywhere.  Hold your heads up high.  After this, purgatory should be a snap.

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  • (EM)I Has A Dream

    EM(I) Has A DreamAugust 28th, 2013 is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. The copyright in the speech is administered by EMI, with the consent of the King family. Thus the speech may not be freely played on video or reproduced and costlessly distributed across the nation — even today. Its transient appearance depends on the copyright owner’s momentary sufferance, not public right. It may disappear from your video library tomorrow. It has even been licensed to advertise commercial products, including cars and mobile phone plans.

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  • The Prosecution of Aaron: A Response to Orin Kerr

    Aaron Swartz committed suicide last week.  He was 26, a genius and my friend.  Not a really good friend, but someone I had worked with off and on for 11 years, liked a lot, had laughed with frequently, occasionally shaken my head over and deeply admired.

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  • The Hargreaves Review

    An Intellectual Property System for the Internet Age

    James Boyle

    In November 2010, the Prime Minister commissioned a review of the Britain’s intellectual property laws and their effect on economic growth, quoting the founders of Google that “they could never have started their company in Britain” because of a lack of flexibility in British copyright..  Mr. Cameron wanted to see if we could have UK intellectual property laws “fit for the Internet age.”   Today the Review will be published. Its conclusion?  “Could it be true that laws designed more than three centuries ago with the express purpose of creating economic incentives for innovation by protecting creators’ rights are today obstructing innovation and economic growth?  The short answer is: yes.” Those words are from Professor Ian Hargreaves, head of the Review.   (Full disclosure: I was on the Review’s panel of expert advisors.)

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  • Keith Aoki — A Remembrance Book

    A slideshow and downloadable book remembering Keith in words and pictures.  You can order a glossy, high quality copy of the book itself here from Createspace or here from Amazon.  We tried to make it as beautiful as something Keith would create.  We failed. But we came close; have a look at how striking it is… all because of Keith’s art.

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  • Now THAT is how you teach a class

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  • RIP, Keith Aoki

    Our friend, colleague, co-author and brilliant artist and scholar Keith Aoki died yesterday in his house in Sacramento.  He was 55 years old.

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