UC Law SF Communications and Entertainment Journal


K. J. Greene


This article explores how African-American music artists, as a group, were routinely deprived of legal protection for creative works under the copyright regime. The issue of copyright deprivation and Black artists is highly significant, given the enormous cultural contribution of Black music to American society, the importance of the music to Black culture, and the tremendous economic benefits at stake. As new issues develop in copyright law, it will be important to people of color, and to an egalitarian society as a whole, that the new copyright regime not duplicate the inequalities of the old. An underlying assumption of race-neutrality pervades copyright scholarship. However, not all creators of intellectual property are similarly situated in a race-stratified society and culture. The history of Black music in America demonstrates the significant inequality of protection in the "raceneutral" copyright regime. It is the hope of this article that questioning the assumption of race neutrality in copyright law and examining how social factors impact intellectual property may assist in changing the way we devise strategies to equalize our society, and may also empower others to move forward in the conversation about race, entitlement and restitution.