‘Hollywood’s Copyright Wars: From Edison to the Internet’

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Media Contact:Jacquie Posey | jposey@upenn.edu | 215-898-6460April 17, 2012

If the Brothers Grimm tale about “the fairest one of all” had remained outside of the public domain, the Disney version of Snow White may never have lived happily ever after.

In his new book, Hollywood's Copyright Wars: From Edison to the Internet (Columbia, 2012), Peter Decherney follows the struggle of the film, television and digital media industries to influence and adapt to copyright law.

The book begins with Thomas Edison's aggressive patent and copyright disputes and concludes with recent lawsuits against YouTube and Universal.

Decherney is an associate professor of cinema studies, English and communication at the University of Pennsylvania and directs the Cinema Studies Program at Penn.  He will discuss his latest book at a talk this evening, Thursday, April 19, at the Penn Bookstore’s second-level Cafe. The event, which is free and open to the public, begins at 6 p.m.

Decherney is a film scholar at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The author of Hollywood and the Culture Elite: How the Movies Became American (Columbia, 2005), he regularly testifies before the U.S. Copyright Office. In 2011 he filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court Case of Golan v. Holder.

Hollywood’s Copyright Wars explores the history of film piracy, the importance of plagiarism for the studio system, film directors’ campaign for “moral rights” and Hollywood’s love-hate relationship with fair use, among other topics.

More information about the book is available at