Freedom of Expression®, the Book

Freedom of Expression®: Resistance and Repression in the Age of Intellectual Property

Winner of the American Library Association's Eli M. Oboler Award for "best scholarship in the area of intellectual freedom"

The University of Minnesota paperback edition includes a foreword by Lawrence Lessig and a new afterword by the author. This book’s documentary companion will be available through Media Education Foundation in late-October, 2007.


Freedom of Expression® covers the ways in which intellectual property laws have been used to privatize all forms of expression—from guitar riffs and Donald Trump’s “you’re fired” gesture to human genes and public space—and in the process stifle creative expression. Kembrew McLeod challenges the blind embrace of privatization as it clashes against our right to free speech and shared resources.

Kembrew McLeod is professor of communication studies at the University of Iowa, author of Owning Culture: Authorship, Ownership, and Intellectual Property Law, and coproducer of the documentary Copyright Criminals: This Is a Sampling Sport.

Lawrence Lessig is professor of law at Stanford Law School.


Download the Creative Commons-Licensed PDF version of the 2005 Doubleday version of Freedom of Expression by clicking here.

Praise for Freedom of Expression®

“We’re living in an age of intellectual-property rights run amok . . . asserts Kembrew McLeod in this smart, amusing examination of the increasingly grubby clash between private property and free speech.” —Mother Jones

“[McLeod’s] examination of intellectual property law is clear, concise, and funny.” —Wired Magazine

“A very funny treatment of an increasingly serious problem: the use of intellectual property rights in ways that suppress instead of foster creativity.” —William Fisher, Hale and Dorr Professor of Intellectual Property Law, Harvard University

“The ability of creators to parlay their expressive efforts with technology falls within a battleground that accountants, lawyers, and lawmakers dictate with barbed boundaries. That’s as impossible as owning the air itself, which Kembrew McLeod states and identifies clearly.” —Chuck D, Public Enemy

“Freedom of Expression is one of the sharpest weapons in the culture wars being waged over the extensive protections now accorded to intellectual property. A lively read, the book brims with humor, juicy examples, and the voices of those whose creativity is threatened and endangered. If you had any doubts about the way intellectual property is shaping popular culture, Kembrew McLeod will dispel them. The privatization of culture has found its most trenchant critic.” —Rosemary Coombe, author of The Cultural Life of Intellectual Properties

“Professor McLeod’s book should be required reading for anyone concerned with having free speech and free press as the trademarks of Rupert Murdoch, Wall Street and the kingpins of Madison Avenue. The stakes are somewhat high — like the future of our society.” —Robert W. McChesney, author of The Problem of the Media

“Kembrew McLeod has written a lively and funny book about life in the age of Intellectual Property Madness. In the spirit of Woody Guthrie himself, this book is your book.” —Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of The Anarchist in the Library



New On the Site

Free Creative Commons licensed cover of "This Land Is Your Land" by Jon Langford, of the Mekons.

For more info, email Kembrew

Check It!

The DVD version of Freedom of Expression® is out now, available through the Media Education Foundation.


dvd cover

The paperback book version of Freedom of Expression® is out!


Book cover