With pre-existing intellectual property (I.P.) ascendant and piracy run amok, the act of creation can seem like a crime scene where the DNA evidence is all mixed up. Bellos, a translator and biographer, and Montagu, a lawyer, step confidently behind the yellow tape to guide us around ... The authors’ chapters are short but their reach, like the arm of the law itself, is long ... They themselves have a wry way with technical material; this is less Copyright for Dummies, like that endlessly extended, imitated and spoofed series, than for wits. Discouraged by their publisher from naming a chapter title after the Beatles’ 'All You Need Is Love,' the authors deftly illustrate this 'absurd' circumstance by only describing in close identifiable detail the band and the song ... by encouraging contemplation beyond specific pieces of what is now bleakly known as 'content,' the book succeeds.
This encyclopedic yet refreshingly breezy book takes readers across time ... The result is a compelling history of human creation, which for better or worse inevitably involves copying ... A welcome and timely addition to our understanding of this complex issue, particularly of the political economy of copyright.