Intellectual Property in the Information Age: The Politics of Expanding Ownership Rights

By Debora J. Halbert | Go to book overview

3
Controlling Technology: Legal Narratives of Copyright

The Congressional reports and laws described in chapter 2 illustrate how the constantly negotiated boundary between sovereignty and exchange has moved in larger circles to limit exchange. In this extension of boundaries there has been a strong relation between the courts and Congressional action. Step by step, the applicability of copyright has been expanded by those who might benefit from possible new property interpretations to include virtually all uses of a creative work. Over the years, the Copyright Act has been amended to include music, photographs, films, and most recently computer programs, in the definition of a literary work. 1 The expansion of copyright protection has occurred primarily as a mechanism for increasing profits and more tightly controlling possible uses. As we move further into an information economy, ownership claims grow fiercer. The courts serve as an excellent window through which to view the climate of copyright interpretation. As intellectual property becomes a more important commodity, proprietary rights are taken more seriously. This translates into heightened litigation to reaffirm a sovereignty system that uses copyright to stake out territory. As software activist Mitchell Kapor noted, "too many companies seem to have decided it is easier to sue their rivals than compete with them." 2

As information becomes increasingly vital to economic security it is important to ask, along with Pamela Samuelson, "Have we outgrown the Enlightenment tradition which viewed information sharing as the best means of increasing wealth and stimulating innovation?"3 Despite the fact that copyright law provided a temporary monopoly, it did so in order to facilitate greater exchange of information. As discussed in chap

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Intellectual Property in the Information Age: The Politics of Expanding Ownership Rights
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Notes xvi
  • 1 - The Historical Construction of Copyright 1
  • Notes 19
  • 2 - Controlling Technology: Political Narratives of Copyright 25
  • Notes 45
  • 3 - Controlling Technology: Legal Narratives of Copyright 49
  • Notes 70
  • 4 - International Piracy: Finding External Intellectual Property Threats 77
  • Notes 94
  • 5 - Hackers: the Construction of Deviance in the Information Age 101
  • Notes 114
  • 6 - Authors in the Information Age 121
  • Notes 138
  • 7 - The Future of Intellectual Property Law 141
  • Notes 159
  • Bibliography 165
  • Index 181
  • About the Author *
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