Two New Essays on Rethinking Intellectual Property

I have essays in two new collections of work on intellectual property.  The first, “From the Right to Copy to Practices of Copying”, in the Rosemarie Coombe, Darren Wershler and Martin Zeilinger edited volume Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online (University of Toronto Press, 2014) is an expansion on the conclusion of In Praise of Copying, which advocates a rethinking of intellectual property. We are living through fundamental shifts in the way in which human societies produce and share copies of things, such that we need to rethink intellectual property in a way that reflects the actual practices of copying that prevail today, rather than merely relying on legal definitions. I also advocate for certain legal reforms. Thinking about practices allows us to affirm that contemporary cultures of sharing are built around collective intentional acts, rather than simply being random transgressions of a self-evident law. The second essay, “Structures of Sharing: Depropriation and Intellectual Property Law”, in Intellectual Property Law for the 21st Century: Interdisciplinary Approaches (Irwin Law, 2014) develops a specific aspect of the argument above, namely the problem of appropriation as it relates to intellectual property law.  I argue that current practices of copying force us to try to think beyond ideas of originals and copies as private property, and to imagine new ways of thinking about copies outside of discourses of ownership.  I elaborate the idea of depropriation, objects that have no owners or are collectively owned, through an analysis of the work of French film-maker Jean-Luc Godard, and think through how depropriation could be integrated into legal models of IP, beyond traditional models of fair use or fair dealing.


  1. Peter Blok says:

    I just finished your book, In praise of Copying, which i find fascinating, and i have not yet read your latest essays. But what I get from it looks promising. Talking about IPR is talking about ownership. Our definitions and concepts of ownership are ,mainly, based on the concepts of ownership of the Romans and are based on the possesion of land, or at least on tangibles. Nowadays ownership is more about intangibles, about tacit knowledge but also bundles of information. Elinor Ostrom, based on Commons, writes about different forms of ownership, so called bundles of ownership. Does this fot your ideas? Are you familiar with the writings of Ostrom? Peter Blok, Utrecht, NL

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