Owning Culture: Authorship, Ownership, and Intellectual Property Law

By Kembrew McLeod | Go to book overview

Chapter 7

Intertextuality, the Internet and
Intellectual Property Law

This book covers an absurdly diverse array of subjects, from celebrities to seeds, with folk music, visual collage and hip-hop thrown in for good measure. It's a safe bet that no other book has discussed Dr. Dre, Mr. Rogers, Martin Luther King Jr., Tom Waits, Elizabeth Taylor, Pablo Picasso, Vanna White, Jesus Christ, Kraft Real Cheese, Mickey Mouse, Andy Warhol and Willie Dixon, as well as Scientology, Sony, Bristol-Myers and Monsanto (it seems the only things missing are Beverly Hills 90210, Will Smith, circus clowns and whipped cream). Articulation theory, however, has allowed me to identify and explore the links between these varied areas of cultural production, while at the same time making sense of the ways in which they become integrated into the logic(s) of intellectual property law. Articulation theory lends coherence to my project by demonstrating how various areas of cultural production are connected with each other. Without articulation theory to guide my analysis, the variety of examples I give would be, at best, eclectic, and, at worst, unfocused.

Hall discusses religion as an example of articulation in a way that is relatively analogous to how I have been thinking about the connections between intellectual property law and cultural production. He points out that religion has no necessary political connotation, but it continues to be a significant cultural force that has a long history, which predates the contemporary, rational systems of social organization. Across a range of societies, at different points in history, religion has been bound up with various cultures in particular ways, “wired up very directly as the cultural and ideological underpinning of a particular structure of power.” 1

There are what Hall calls “lines of tendential force,” which articulate a religious formation to the political, ideological and economic formations within particular societies throughout history. 2 In discussing religion, Hall states:

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