If you really want an “eye opener” concerning the current state of copyright & IP in the US, here’s a list of excellent reference material.  A few of them have free downloads available and links are provided.

  •  “Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars”
    William Patry
    Sept 3, 2009

    If you only read one of these books, read this one — it’s both an eye-opener & a page turner.  I couldn’t put it down once I started reading it.  I guarantee — you’ll not only gain an understanding of what’s going on in the ‘world of copyright’ — but you will also be really pissed! (in a good way)

    Excerpt from introduction:

    “The sin of copyright — and it is a large and growing sin — is that it provides the legal framework for such an upside-down business model, a model in which the copyright industries may safely engage in anti-consumer, anti-competitive, and anti-innovative conduct.  New technologies are vehemently opposed as an existential threat to the business model of vertical control.  Rather than adapt to new technologies and the new business opportunities they present, the copyright industries litigate rather than innovate, with a goal of turning new technologies into one more way to preserve the status quo.  Such efforts don’t make the copyright industries evil, but they do reflect the fact that too many of the copyright industries are poorly run by executives whose only vision is in the rearview window…”

  • “Against Intellectual Monopoly”
    Michele Boldrin & David K. Levine
    July 7, 2008

    Another great book, covering both copyright & patents.  Here’s the authors’ home page where you can find an online version of the book.

  • “The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind”
    Prof. James Boyle
    Dec 9, 2008

    Author’s web site, with link to online version of book

  • “The Gridlock Economy: How Too Much Ownership Wrecks Markets, Stops Innovation, and Costs Lives”
    by Michael Heller
    July 7, 2008
  •  “Copyright’s Paradox”
    Neil Weinstock Netanel
    April 14, 2008
  • “The Future of the Internet–And How to Stop It”
    by Jonathan Zittrain
    April 14, 2008

    Book web site.  Click on “Download” to read a digital copy of the book.  This book is a MUST READ.  It’s not so much about copyright, but rather the Internet in general & where we may be headed if we don’t pay attention to what’s going on.

Here’s a few more excellent references  (IMHO).  They’re a bit more dated, but are still applicable to current copyright / IP trends.

  •  “Wired Shut: Copyright and the Shape of Digital Culture”
    by Tarleton Gillespie
    June 1, 2007
  • “Code V2”
    by Lawrence Lessig

    I just started reading this one.  It’s a bit different than the others, but intriguing none the less & will really make you think.  Here’s the book web site w/download available

  • “Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity”
    by Lawrence Lessig
    March 30, 2004

    Excellent book!  Here’s the book web site w/download available

  • “The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World”
    by Lawrence Lessig
    Oct 30, 2001

    This is the first of Lawrence’s books that I read.  It too, is excellent.  Here’s the book web site w/download available

Enjoy… and be shocked at the same time!  If you enjoy the books that are available for free download, I encourage you to purchase a copy in support of the efforts of these authors.