May 2005

Brand Name Bullies: The Quest to Own and Control Culture

John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

  • 111 River Street
  • Hoboken , NJ

201.748.6011

abc Brand Name Bullies xyz explores the litigious world of intellectual property and examines the consequences for a democratic society resources that were once free and open are co-opted for the corporate good.

The book is filled with fascinating and sometimes hard to believe stories about the use and abuse of trademark and copyright laws. One example describes how ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, stopped the Girl Scouts from singing around the campfire at their summer camps. ASCAP did not intentionally target the Girl Scouts; however, in their attempt to collect royalties for the public performance of copyrighted songs the Girl Scouts became involved. After some bad PR ASCAP decided to let the Girl Scouts sing without paying royalties.

Although the book is filled with many stories such as the Girl Scout story, the central issue of abc Brand Name Bullies xyz is the tension between trademark and copyright laws and the use of copyrighted material for the public good. The author argues that the free use of information is essential to an open, democratic society. He maintains that corporations in their attempt to control culture are making the free flow of information more difficult and that this trend is detrimental to our democratic society.

Reviewer: Jeff Castillo, FIDM Library Staff Member