Oprah, Beyoncé, and the Girls Who 'Run the World' – Are Black Female Cultural Producers Gaining Ground in Intellectual Property Law?

Wake Forest J. of Intellectual Property Law, Volume 15, No. 3, pages 1-27 (Spring 2015).

28 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2015

Date Written: September 12, 2015

Abstract

Oprah Winfrey and Beyonce Knowles are two of the richest women in the world today. Does this mean that race, gender and class no longer limit the success of America’s black female cultural producers ("BFCPs") as they did in the past? This article will explore this question by looking at how these two women faired as defendants in recent copyright infringement cases, in contrast to the historical experiences of BFCPs. The discussion will be enriched by the examination of equally important contemporary BFCP, Alice Randall, whose parody of white author, Margaret Mitchell's "Gone with the Wind" in the novel, "The Wind Done Gone", invited acclaim by such iconic writers as Toni Morrison and Harper Lee, and a lawsuit for infringement from Mitchell's estate. Disputes like this enable us to check the pulse of the culture in order to identify who gets to own and exploit the tools of intellectual property creation, and in so doing, learn who drives the creation of popular culture itself.

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Keywords: Oprah Winfrey, Beyonce, Alice Randall, Phyllis Wheatley, Edmonia Lewis, Gender, Race, Class, Law, Intellectual Property, Copyright, Ethics, Media, Entertainment, Publishing, Music, Television

JEL Classification: 034, J71

Suggested Citation

Lester, Toni, Oprah, Beyoncé, and the Girls Who 'Run the World' – Are Black Female Cultural Producers Gaining Ground in Intellectual Property Law? (September 12, 2015). Wake Forest J. of Intellectual Property Law, Volume 15, No. 3, pages 1-27 (Spring 2015)., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2659478

Toni Lester (Contact Author)

Babson College ( email )

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