Invited Talk: UNLV Law School

Invited Talk: UNLV Law School

Update (10/15/14): I had a wonderful time at UNLV sharing my work with the faculty members of both English and Law, who asked really great questions and were gracious and courteous.  As far as giving talks go, I couldn’t have asked for a more engaged and collegial audience.

I’m giving a a talk this month to the UNLV Law faculty on a chapter of my forthcoming book, Illegal Literature, from University of Minnesota Press.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been in Vegas, and certainly the first time I’ve been there for non-recreational purposes.

I’m looking forward to the ensuing discussion, and I’m particularly keen on hearing what legal experts have to say regarding my interdisciplinary approach to law and literature.  Here’s an preview:

From Solitary to Accretive Genius:
Japanese Amateur Comics and the Limits of Copyright

David S. Roh
Assistant Professor
Dept. of English
Old Dominion University

Using Japanese amateur comics (dōjinshi) as a comparative case study, I show how communal fictions in the aggregate—and in flagrant violation of international and domestic copyright law—spur literary and cultural development. The large, quasi-institutionalized dōjinshi community emerged in Japan thanks to a confluence of favorable infrastructural and legal factors creating an environment conducive to extralegal creativity. In contrast, their American counterparts generally disapprove of fan fiction, which limits the growth potential for both parties. The disparate reactions of American and Japanese content owners to amateur fiction illustrate how different policies affect industry and cultural development. Japanese publishers tacitly sanction dōjinshi authors, which results in a vibrant sub-industry acting as advertising for borrowed works, but more importantly, functions as a counterpoint against which the center defines itself. I posit that the importance of amateur fiction lies with the dialogic relationship that compels engagement and adaptation. The community of dojinshi creators coalesce generic forms, creating a textual ecology that causes the center to shift and groan in response. In short, this paper argues that copyright in its current form does not account for the phenomenon of accretive genius, and that a generous, rather than protectionist, legal policy may be of greater benefit to culture at large.