Can the words "freedom of expression" be trademarked? Well, they have been—by McLeod, who consistently follows the phrase with a ®, to point up the absurdity of Fox's trademarking of "fair and balanced." As he shows, the notion of intellectual property now extends well beyond digital music sampling to biology (gene patenting) and "scents and gestures"—and laws governing it, the author says, are being wielded like a bludgeon. McLeod, a University of Iowa communications professor, charts the effects of the intense commercialization of intellectual property from cultural, legal and technological perspectives, asserting that the current environment handcuffs creators who used to be encouraged to build on past creations. Now, the author posits, potential creators "engage in self-censorship" out of fear of copyright or trademark infringement lawsuits, pushing culture toward a weak, commercial center of creativity. While McLeod's arguments aren't original, his entertaining examples and punchy writing nicely amplify the concerns voiced by an increasing number of intellectual property scholars, such as Lawrence Lessig. Although he evokes dark, almost Orwellian images throughout, McLeod manages an upbeat spin, citing the "egalitarian" nature of the new technologies and a growing awareness of the need to return to a place where "freedom of expression" is once again "a meaningful concept that guides our political, social and creative lives."
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