Jonathan Taplin produced Mean StreetsMartin Scorsese’s first film, and has also worked with Bob Dylan and George Harrison. Prof. Taplin’s movies have won Oscar and Golden Globes nominations and been selected five times for The Cannes Film Festival.

He is also author of Outlaw Blues, which iTune describes as “one of the first Enhanced E-Books with more than 100 video clips embedded throughout the story of the American counter-culture” (Kindle edition here).

These days, however, as a media studies professor at the University of Southern California, he has been working on a different kind of book—Sleeping Through a Revolution: The Secret History of Internet Power, set to appear from Little Brown in spring 2017.

Prof. Taplin’s opinions should endear him to many in New York and Hollywood. As summed up in promotion for his 9:15 a.m. speech on March 8 for Digital Book World + Expo, he has formulated “a unified theory of content and digital change… the core premise of which is that Silicon Valley tech and libertarian values are devaluing content at the altar of digital change. He sees content creators as passively accepting that they must be the victims of the new digital realities and he rallies them to see what is happening. Taplin’s message has been honed in Hollywood, but it applies to New York’s world of books.”

In a recent TeleRead post, Associate Editor Paul St John Mackintosh said Prof. Taplin had unfairly demonized Amazon and the like in his section of a white paper for theDigital Book World Conference (snippet here). Is Prof. Taplin just an old media guy out to get the biggest bucks for New York publishers and the Hollywood studios? I personally think it isn’t that simple. Significantly, Prof. Taplin’s optimal copyright term would be 40 years at most. This is a far cry from, say, the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act.

It is not too late to hear Prof. Taplin in person and reach your own conclusions. You can register here for Digital Book World, held March 7-9 at the Hilton New York Midtown and save five percent with the code TELEREAD5 if you do so by March 6.

Below is a TeleRead Q&A via email with Prof. Taplin, including a timely warning: “If you want a view of what would happen to the creative arts in a Trump Presidency, just read the history of life for an artist in Berlin in 1934.” I’ve edited the Q&A for space and clarity.


Read the rest of the Q&A here: