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

By Debora J. Halbert | Go to book overview

eignty over the new realm of exchange -- electronic information. The outcome is a clear understanding of computer programs as intellectual property, the emergence of "legitimate" and "illegitimate" ownership of intellectual property, and ultimately the construction of villains who prey on "helpless" owners of copyrights.

The legal discourse helps reconstruct the traditional copyright story for use on the Internet and incorporate computer software under the rubric of ownership. What is packaged for the American people is a notion of intellectual property rights that is solid and permanent. Court cases help provide that solidity by establishing precedents that can be followed. As this chapter shows, the courts have appeared willing to balance competing property claims. However, these claims are balanced within an already existing set of property assumptions that are extended to cover new types of creative work and new methods for exchanging information. The courts have not questioned the applicability of copyright or property law. Copyright has become a commonly accepted myth legitimized through the legal system. 103 Yet, our current copyright paradigm is breaking down as it is stretched to make illegal the exchange that is practiced on the Internet and through the process of creation. Because copyright litigation is about protecting market share, the romantic notion of exchange it was meant to foster is dying. As we move further into the information age, the discourse on copyright is being used to develop the lines between appropriate and inappropriate actions. In the next two chapters, I look more closely at the production of villains. These villains help define the manner in which information should be shared.


NOTES
1
Literary works are works, other than audiovisual works, expressed in words, numbers, or other verbal or numerical symbols or indicia, regardless of the nature of the material objects, such as books, periodicals, manuscripts, phonorecords, film, tapes, disks, or cards, in which they are embodied. Copyright Act of 1976>, 17 U.S.C. § 101. The National Commission on New Technological Uses of Copyrighted Works (CONTU) recommended in 1979 that computer programs be recognized as copyrighted works. Congress complied and codified this recommendation in 17 U.S.C. §§ 101, 117.
2
Statement of Mitchell D. Kapor. Computers and intellectual property: Hearings before the subcommittee on courts, intellectual property and the administration of justice of the committee on the judiciary, House of Representatives, 101st Cong., 1st, & 2nd Session ( 1989), 242.
3
P. Samuelson, "Information as property: Do Ruckelshaus and Carpenter signal a changing direction in intellectual property law?" Catholic University Law Review (Winter 1989): 367.
4
Samuelson cited two cases: Ruckelshaus v. Monsanto Co., and Carpenter v.United States

-70-

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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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