About

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Dr. Aram Sinnreich is a media professor, author, and musician. He currently serves as chair of Communication Studies at American University’s School of Communication.

Sinnreich’s work focuses on the intersection of culture, law and technology, with an emphasis on subjects such as emerging media and music. He is the author of three books, Mashed Up (2010), The Piracy Crusade (2013), and The Essential Guide to Intellectual Property (2019). He has also written for publications including The New York Times, Billboard, Wired, The Daily Beast, and The Conversation. In prior incarnations, Sinnreich worked at Rutgers University, NYU Steinhardt, OMD Ignition Factory, Radar Research, and Jupiter Research.

As a bassist and composer, Sinnreich has played with groups and artists including reggae soul band Dubistry, jazz and R&B band Brave New Girl, punk chanteuse Vivien Goldman, hard bop trio The Rooftoppers, and Ari-Up, lead singer of The Slits. Sinnreich was a finalist in the 2014 John Lennon Songwriting Contest (with co-authors Dunia Best and Todd Nocera), and a semifinalist in the 2020 Bernard/Ebb Songwriting Awards.

Books

Essential Guide to Intellectual Property
(Yale Press, 2019)

This engaging and accessible study looks at the origins, evolution, purpose, and limitations of intellectual property. Detailing how intellectual property affects industry, politics, cultural expression, and medical research, Aram Sinnreich takes a multidisciplinary approach to uncover what’s behind the current debates and what the future holds for copyrights, patents, and trademarks.
 
Based on the notion that intellectual property law is not merely a property right but also a mechanism of cultural and economic regulation with significant consequences for democratic institutions, global businesses, arts, and the sciences, Sinnreich draws on media studies, communications, law, economics, and cultural studies as he provides a blueprint for understanding intellectual property rights and underlines the important and pervasive role that they play in everyone’s lives.

Aram Sinnreich’s Essential Guide to Intellectual Property provides an engaging analysis of the role of copyright, patents, and trademarks in shaping and regulating industry, politics, and cultural expression.

Author's Alliance

This engaging introductory book is suitable for undergraduates in the arts, humanities, business, sciences, and social sciences.

Choice Reviews

One of the best copyright books of all time.

Book Authority

The Piracy Crusade
(UMass Press, 2013)

In the decade and a half since Napster first emerged, forever changing the face of digital culture, the claim that "internet pirates killed the music industry" has become so ubiquitous that it is treated as common knowledge. Piracy is a scourge on legitimate businesses and hard-working artists, we are told, a "cybercrime" similar to identity fraud or even terrorism.

In The Piracy Crusade, I critique the notion of "piracy" as a myth perpetuated by today's cultural cartels -- the handful of companies that dominate the film, software, and especially music industries. As digital networks have permeated our social environment, they have offered vast numbers of people the opportunity to experiment with innovative cultural and entrepreneurial ideas predicated on the belief that information should be shared widely. This has left the media cartels, whose power has historically resided in their ability to restrict the flow of cultural information, with difficult choices: adapt to this new environment, fight the changes tooth and nail, or accept obsolescence. Their decision to fight has resulted in ever stronger copyright laws and the aggressive pursuit of accused infringers.

Yet the most dangerous legacy of this "piracy crusade" is not the damage inflicted on promising start-ups or on well-intentioned civilians caught in the crosshairs of file-sharing litigation. Far more troubling, Sinnreich argues, are the broader implications of copyright laws and global treaties that sacrifice free speech and privacy in the name of combating the phantom of piracy -- policies that threaten to undermine the foundations of democratic society.

Mashed Up
(UMass Press, 2010)

Mashed Up chronicles the rise of "configurability," an emerging musical and cultural moment rooted in today's global, networked communications infrastructure. Based on interviews with dozens of prominent DJs, attorneys, and music industry executives, the book argues that today's battles over sampling, file sharing, and the marketability of new styles such as "mash-ups" and "techno" presage social change on a far broader scale.

Music has always been regulated in societies around the globe. Institutional authorities ranging from dynastic China's "Office to Harmonize Sounds" to today's copyright collecting societies like BMI and ASCAP leverage the rule of law and the power of the market to make sure that some musical forms and practices are allowed and others are prohibited.

Yet, despite the efforts of these powerful regulators, musical cultures consistently devise new and innovative ways to work around institutional regulations. These workarounds often generate new styles and traditions in turn, with effects far beyond the cultural sphere.

This book suggests some new twists in this age-old story: the emergence of a new ethic of configurable collectivism; an economic reunion of labor; a renegotiation of the line between public and private; a shift from linear to recursive logic; and a new "DJ consciousness," in which the margins are becoming the new mainstream. Whether these changes are sudden or gradual, violent or peaceful, will depend on whether we heed the lessons of configurability, or continue to police and punish the growing ranks of the mashed up.

Music

Articles

I frequently contribute articles and opinion pieces to popular news outlets. Below is a list of some recently published pieces:

  • How quarantine made me reevaluate my life (MarketWatch)
  • Which Historical Figure Was the Mark Zuckerberg of Their Time? (Gizmodo)
  • Naked Space in a Networked World: Music and Ritual in the Twenty-First Century (Naxos Musicology International)
  • Stranger Things Isn’t ’80s Nostalgia — It’s ’90s Nostalgia (and it’s all about 2016) (Medium)
  • Beltway Expansion Threatens the American Dream (Maryland Matters)
  • Plagiarists or innovators? The Led Zeppelin paradox endures (The Conversation)
  • What Spotify’s Alarming R. Kelly Censorship Means for the Future of the Internet (The Daily Beast)
  • Cambridge Analytica: Tip of the Iceberg as Deep as the Ocean (The Globe Post)
  • To serve a free society, social media must evolve beyond data mining (w/ Barbara Romzek, The Conversation)
  • Social media companies should ditch clickbait, and compete over trustworthiness (w/ Barbara Romzek, The Conversation)
  • Why I left Facebook for good: A reader explains (Letter to the editor, USA Today)
  • Rest in power, David Vyorst (Obituary, BoingBoing)
  • How facial recognition technology is turning people into human bar codes (MarketWatch)
  • Fleeing Pogroms to Fight Nazis: My Family's Secret Refugee Past (The Daily Beast)
  • America first (Editorial cartoon, Truthdig)
  • Killer robots and rebel wieners: Did Hollywood’s working-class revolt fantasies fuel Trump’s rise? (Truthdig)
  • Will the real Wailers please (get up) stand up? (The Daily Beast)
  • If Led Zeppelin goes down, we all burn (The Daily Beast)
  • Islamic State’s dangerous effort to wipe out humanity’s past (Truthdig)
  • Net neutrality: What's really at stake (Op-Ed, The Bergen Record)
  • Welcome to Alphaville, Avoid the Ghetto (Truthdig)
  • Remixing Girl Talk: The Poetics and Aesthetics of Mashups (Sounding Out!)
  • ‘This Is What We Do’: Why I Hated Chrysler’s Super Bowl Ad (Truthdig)
  • E-Speech: The (Uncertain) Future of Free Expression (w/ Masha Zager, Truthdig)
  • Pin the flag on Liberty (Editorial cartoon, Truthdig)
  • Closing the Box on Pandora? (Truthdig)
  • Right Move, Wrong Reasons: Inside the EMI/Apple Deal (Truthdig)
  • Clumsy To Cool: Branded Entertainment And The Rules Of In-Game Ads (w/ Marissa Gluck, MediaPost)
  • Waiting Game: Key P2P Legal Rulings Coming (Billboard)
  • Microsoft Plays to Film Industry (Wired)
  • Rollout of CDs With Anti-Piracy Safeguards Limited By Tech Glitches, Labels’ Fears (Billboard)
  • Copy Protection Making Slow Progress (Billboard)
  • Love Found on the Barricades (New York Times)
  • Where the Solos Last Till Dawn (New York Times)

Research

I have been publishing peer-reviewed scholarly research, public interest research, and market research since the 1990s. Common subjects include digital media industries, intellectual property, musical and sound cultures, privacy and surveillance, critical data studies, and internet governance. Below is a list of publications, in APA format, categorized by type. Links are provided where the research is publicly available. You may find additional information about my scholarly work, as well as downloadable copies of articles, on public repositories including SSRN, ResearchGate, Academia.edu, and Archive.org.

EDITED VOLUMES

Sinnreich, A. & Carmi, E. (Eds.). (2019). Sonic Publics (Forum). International Journal of Communication, 13.

  • Collection of 5 essays on sound, communication technology and publics
  • Audio introduction featuring interviews with authors available on Archive.org.

Sinnreich, A. & Brooks, L. J. A. (Eds.). (2016). Imagining Futuretypes (Forum). International Journal of Communication, 10.

  • Collection of 11 essays on speculative fiction and futurism
  • Also published in print as a special issue of ETC: A Review of General Semantics, 72(4).

JOURNAL ARTICLES

Davis, D. & Sinnreich, A. (forthcoming). Beyond fact-checking: Lexical patterns as lie detectors in Donald Trump’s tweets. International Journal of Communication.

Sinnreich, A., Aufderheide, P., Clifford, M., & Shahin, S. (forthcoming). Access shrugged: The decline of the copyleft and the rise of utilitarian openness. New Media & Society.

Gillespie, T., Aufderheide, P., Carmi, E., Matamoros-Fernández, A., Gerrard, Y., Gorwa, R., Roberts, S. T., Sinnreich, A., & Myers West, S. (2020, forthcoming). Expanding the debate about content moderation. Internet Policy Review.

Sinnreich, A., Aufderheide, P. & Newman, D. (2020). Creative action under two copyright regimes: Filmmaking and visual arts in Australia and the U.S. Communication, Culture & Critique. https://doi.org/10.1093/ccc/tcaa003

Sinnreich, A. & Gilbert, J. (2019). The carrier wave principle. International Journal of Communication, 13, 5816–5840.

Brøvig-Hanssen, R. & Sinnreich, A. (2019). Do You Wanna Build a Wall? Remix Tactics in the Age of Trump. Popular Music & Society, 43(5).

Sinnreich, A. & Carmi, E. (2019). Sonic Publics: Introduction and Audio Transcript. International Journal of Communication, 13, 359-382.

Sinnreich, A. (2019). Music, Copyright, and Technology: A Dialectic in Five Moments. International Journal of Communication, 13, 422-439.

Aufderheide, P., Sinnreich, A., & Silvernail, C., (2019). Norms-shifting on copyright and fair use in the visual arts community. Visual Arts Research, 45(2), 91-108.

Sinnreich, A. (2018). Four Crises in Algorithmic Governance. Annual Review of Law and Ethics.

Aufderheide, P., Sinnreich, A., & Graf, J. (2018). The Limits of the Limits of the Law: How Useable are DMCA Anti-Circumvention Exceptions? International Journal of Communication, 12, Feature 4353-4372.

Sinnreich, A., Forelle, M. & Aufderheide, P. (2018). Copyright givers and takers: Mutuality, altruism and instrumentalism in open licensing. Communication Law & Policy, 23(3).

Sinnreich, A. & Brooks, L. J. A. (2016). A seat at the nerd table — Introduction. International Journal of Communication, 10, Forum 5664-5668.

Sinnreich, A., Lingel, J., Lichfield, G. & Rottinghaus, A. R. (2016). Everybody and nobody: Visions of individualism and collectivity in the age of AI. International Journal of Communication, 10, Forum 5669–5683.

Lingel, J., Sutko, D., Lichfield, G. & Sinnreich, A. (2016). Black holes as metaphysical silence. International Journal of Communication, 10, Forum 5684–5692.

Pluretti, R., Lingel, J. & Sinnreich, A. (2016). Towards an “other” dimension: An essay on transcendence of gender and sexuality. International Journal of Communication, 10, Forum 5732–5739.

Brooks, L. J. A., Sutko, D., Sinnreich, A. & Wallace, R. (2016). Afro-futuretyping generation starships and new Earths 05015 C.E. International Journal of Communication, 10, Forum 5749–5762.

Lingel, J. & Sinnreich, A. (2016). Incoded counter-conduct: What the incarcerated can teach us about resisting mass surveillance. First Monday, 21(5). DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/fm.v21i5.6172

Sinnreich, A. (2015). Sharing in spirit: Kopimism and the digital Eucharist. Information, Communication and Society, 19(4), 504-517.

Aufderheide, P. & Sinnreich, A. (2015). Documentarians, fair use and free expression: Changes in copyright attitudes and actions with access to best practices. Information, Communication & Society, 19(2), 178-187.

Sinnreich, A. & Aufderheide, P. (2015). Communication scholars and fair use: The case for discipline-wide education and institutional reform. International Journal of Communication, 9; 818-828.

Sinnreich, A. & Latonero, M. (2014). Tracking configurable culture from the margins to the mainstream. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 19(4); 798-823.

Trammell, A. & Sinnreich, A. (2014). Visualizing game studies: Materiality and sociality from chessboard to circuit board. Journal of Games Criticism, 1(1). Published online: http://gamescriticism.org/articles/trammellsinnreich-1-1/

Latonero, M. & Sinnreich, A. (2014). The hidden demography of new media ethics. Information, Communication & Society, 17(5); 572-593

Bossewitch, J. & Sinnreich, A. (2013). The end of forgetting: Strategic agency beyond the Panopticon. New Media & Society, 15(2); 224-242.

Sinnreich, A., Graham, N. & Trammell, A. (2011). Weaving a New 'Net: A Mesh- Based Solution for Democratizing Networked Communications. The Information Society, 27(5); 336-345.

Sinnreich, A., Latonero, M., & Gluck, M. (2009). Ethics Reconfigured: How Today's Media Consumers Evaluate the Role of Creative Reappropriation. Information, Communication & Society, 12(8); 1242-1260.

Sinnreich, A., Chib, A., & Gilbert, J. (2008). Modeling information equality: Social and media latency effects on information diffusion. International Journal of Communication, 2(1); 1-20.

BOOK CHAPTERS

Rosa, F. R., Clifford, M., & Sinnreich, A. (forthcoming). The more things change: Who gets left behind as remix goes mainstream? In E. Navas, O. Gallagher, and x. burrough (Eds.), The handbook of remix studies and digital humanities. New York: Routledge.

Sinnreich, A. & Dols, S. (forthcoming). Chopping Neoliberalism, Screwing the Industry: DJ Screw, the Dirty South, and the Temporal Politics of Resistance. In R. Christopher (Ed.), Hip-Hop Theory: Time, Technology, and the 21st Century. University of Minnesota Press.

Sinnreich, A. (2020). Configurable culture in small and large media markets: A comparative cross-national perspective. In J. Macek, P. Stepan, P. Szczepanik, and P. Zahrádka (Eds.), Digital peripheries: Online circulation of audiovisual content from the small market perspective. New York: Springer.

Sinnreich, A. (2019). Music, Copyright, and Technology: A Historical Dance in Five Moments. In D. Diederichsen (Ed.), 100 jahre copyright. Berlin: Matthes & Seitz; 102–124.

Davis, D. H. & Sinnreich, A. (2018). Tweet the Press: Effects of Donald Trump’s “Fake News!” Epithet on Civics and Popular Culture. In M. Lockhart (Ed.), President Donald Trump and his political discourse: Ramifications of rhetoric via Twitter. New York: Routledge; 195–223.
        
Sinnreich, A. (2018). The ‘thing’ about music: Hearing power at the nexus of technology, property and culture. In P. Messaris & D. Park (Eds.), The inclusive vision: Essays in honor of Larry Gross. New York: Peter Lang; 127–140.        

Sinnreich, A. (2017). Remarks on design and copyright in the age of silicon. In S. Owens (Ed.), Design unfolds: Contemporary creative strategies from appropriation to collaboration. Zurich: Zurich University of the Arts.

Sinnreich, A. (2017). Collaborative. In E. Navas, O. Gallagher, and x. burrough (Eds.), Keywords in remix studies. New York: Routledge; 56–66.

Figueres, P., Liao, C., Gunkel, D., Kanai, A., Harrison, N., Gallagher, O., Miller, P. D., burrough, x., Nunes, M., Vallier, J., Keifer-Boyd, K., Coppa, F., Jenkins, H., Tushnet, R., Wille, J., Sinnreich, A., Navas, E., Janneke, A., Spooky, DJ, et al. (2017). Appropriation. In E. Navas, O. Gallagher, and x. burrough (Eds.), Keywords in Remix Studies. New York: Routledge.

Sinnreich, A. (2016). Ethics, evolved: An international perspective on copying in the networked age. In D. H. Hick and R. Schmücker, The Aesthetics and Ethics of Copying. London: Bloomsbury; 315-334.

Sinnreich, A. (2016). Slicing the Pie: The Search for an Equitable Recorded Music Economy. In P. Wikström and R. DeFillippi (Eds.), Business Innovation and Disruption in the Music Industry. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar; 153-174.

Sinnreich, A. (2015). Music cartels and the dematerialization of power. In A. Bennett and S. Waksman (Eds.), The Sage Handbook of Popular Music. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage; 611-626.

Sinnreich, A. (2014). The emerging ethics of networked culture. In E. Navas, O. Gallagher, and x. burrough (Eds.), The Remix Studies Reader. New York: Routledge; 227-245.

Sinnreich, A. & Latonero, M. (2014). Uncommon knowledge: Testing persistent beliefs about configurable culture and society. In L. Lievrouw (Ed.), Challenging Communication Research (ICA Theme Book, 2013). Peter Lang; 123-140.

Sinnreich, A. (2013). How bad is P2P, anyway? In R. Braga and G. Caruso (Eds.), The Piracy Effect. Cinergie Books; 49-62.

Sinnreich, A. & Gluck, M. (2006). Music and fashion: the balancing act between creativity and control. In D. Bollier and L. Racine (Eds.), Ready to Share: Fashion and the Ownership of Creativity. Los Angeles: Norman Lear Center Press; 47-69.

BOOK REVIEWS & ESSAYS

Sinnreich, A. (2017). A cultural approach to Carey. [Review of the book James W. Carey and communication research: Reputation at the university's margins, by Jefferson Pooley]. International Journal of Media & Cultural Politics, 13(3), 327- 330.

Sinnreich, A. (2007). Come together, right now: We know something’s happening, but we don’t know what it is. [Review of the book Convergence Culture, by Henry Jenkins]. International Journal of Communication; 1(1).

Sinnreich, A. (2005). All that jazz was: Remembering the mainstream avant-garde. American Quarterly, 57(2); 561-572.

ENCYCLOPEDIA ENTRIES

Wang. J. & Sinnreich, A. (forthcoming, 2021). Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. In L. A. Schintler and C. L. McNeely (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Big Data. New York: Springer.

Dunham, I. & Sinnreich, A. (2018). File sharing. In B. Warf (Ed.), The Sage Encyclopedia of the Internet. Washington, DC: Sage; 376-378.

Garlitz, J. & Sinnreich, A. (2014). Musicians and social media in politics. In K. Harvey (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Social Media and Politics. Washington, DC: Sage; 861-866.

PROFESSIONAL RESEARCH

Sinnreich, A. (2014). How publishers can make the most of mobile advertising. (Research report). GigaOM Research.

Sinnreich, A. (2014). Legal challenges and opportunities for 3D printing. (Research report). GigaOM Research

Sinnreich, A. (2014). 3D printing: Hype, hope or threat? (Research report). GigaOM Research.

Sinnreich, A. (2013). The revolution will be targeted: RTB and the future of programmatic advertising. (Research report). GigaOM Pro.

Sinnreich, A. (2013). Frenemy mine: The pros and cons of social partnerships for online media companies. (Research report). GigaOM Pro.

PUBLIC RESEARCH

Sinnreich, A. (2018). Policy Briefing Note: An International Approach to Data Privacy. Center for Media & Social Impact

Sinnreich, A. (2018). Testimony in support of net neutrality, DC Council.

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