Putting Intellectual Property in Its Place


Laura Murray, Tina Piper, Kirsty Robertson. Putting Intellectual Property in Its Place: Rights Discourses, Creative Labor, and the Everyday. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

“Putting Intellectual Property in its Place” examines the relationship between creativity and intellectual property law on the premise that despite concentrated critical attention devoted to IP law from academic, policy, and activist quarters, its role as a determinant of creative activity is overstated. The effects of IP rights or law are usually more unpredictable, non-linear, or illusory than is often presumed. Through a series of case studies focusing on nineteenth century U.S. newspapers, plant hormone research in Canada between the wars, “fake” art, online knitting communities, creativity in small cities, and legal practice, the authors discuss the many ways people comprehend the law through information and opinions gathered from friends, strangers, coworkers, and the media. They also show how people choose to share, create, negotiate, and dispute; based on what seems fair, just, or necessary in the context of how their community functions in that moment, while ignoring or re-imagining legal mechanisms. This is not just the case in places or professions with defined alternative regimes. The authors define their objective in this book as the everyday life of IP law. The book constitutes an experiment in non-normative legal scholarship and in building theory from material and located practice.

Image: Sam Durant, Unique Mono-Block Resin Chair. Built at Jiao Zhi Studio, Xiamen, China. Produced by Ye Xing You and Du Wei Dong with Craftspeople Xu Liang Jian and Xu Zhi Hong. Kang Youteng, Project manager and Liaison., 2006, Glazed porcelain; 31 1/2″ x 21″ x 19 1/2″; Photo credit: Joshua White


About Kirsty Robertson

Kirsty Robertson is Associate Professor of contemporary art and Director of museum and curatorial studies at Western University, Canada.
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