Tag Archives: copyright

New in Print C.J. Craig, “Copyright, Communication and Culture: Re-Imagining the Copyright Model”

Colleague, IFLS member (and cherished friend) Carys Craig has published a reworking of her dissertation entitled Copyright, Communication and Culture: re-Imagining the Copyright Model”.  The book is available here (Amazon.ca, still in preorder as of now but at a good price), or from the publisher here.  She had a book launch last Friday, covered in detail by IPOsgoode here.

Here’s the publisher’s blurb for Copyright, Communication and Culture:

In this provocative book, Carys Craig challenges the assumptions of possessive individualism embedded in modern day copyright law, arguing that the dominant conception of copyright as private property fails to adequately reflect the realities of cultural creativity.

Employing both theoretical argument and doctrinal analysis, including the novel use of feminist theory, the author explores how the assumptions of modern copyright result in law that frequently restricts the kinds of expressive activities it ought to encourage. In contrast, Carys Craig proposes a relational theory of copyright based on a dialogic account of authorship, and guided by the public interest in a vibrant, participatory culture. Through a critical examination of the doctrines of originality and fair dealing, as well as the relationship between copyright and freedom of expression, she explores how this relational theory of copyright law could further the public purposes of the copyright system and the social values it embodies.

Some of the arguments which appear in the book were first published as articles.  For instance, regarding her use of feminist theory (which is how you get your copyright book featured on IFLS, naturally), you can read her “Reconstructing the Author-Self: Some Feminist Lessons for Copyright LawJournal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law, Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 207-268, 2007   (link is to SSRN):

“Employing the tools of feminist dialogism and relational theory, I hope to show that we can re-imagine the author not as source, origin, or authority, but as participant, citizen. These ideas illuminate the nature of authorship as a social and formative process, but they also offer the foundation for a coherent justification of copyright: copyright law, which aims to encourage creativity and exchange, should thereby encourage participation in cultural dialogue and facilitate the relations of communication that are central to this conception of selfhood and society.”

Carys will speak at our October Feminist Friday, on “What’s Feminist about Open Access?” a co authored piece which was published in the inaugural edition of Feminists@Law, a new open access journal of feminist legal scholarship.  Maybe you don’t know much about the intersection of Feminism and Copyright, but think it sounds like a neat neighbourhood.  When I asked for two suggestions, Carys suggested these articles to those intrigued by the connections between feminist theory and copyright (or IP more generally).  Carys adores alliteration, so she described these as favourite/fundamental:
Malla Pollack. “Towards a Feminist Theory of the Public Domain, or The Gendered Scope of United States’ Copyrightable and Patentable Subject Matter” William & Mary J. of Women and the Law 12 (2006): 603. Link is to Hein Online (requires account – will likely work if you are accessing from a university IP address):

the public domain is feminine because it provides essential nourishment; it is the birthing and lactating mother. As one seed becomes a plant due to the fecundity of the earth goddess, so one human sprouts poems due to the fecundity of the public domain, the daemon, the muse.”

Says Carys, “A sure way to make upper year law students shift uneasily in their seats.”    Another must-read classic (and Canadian to boot): is Shelley Wright, A Feminist Exploration of the Legal Protection of Art, 7 Can. J. Women & L. 59 (1994).  (Another Hein Online link. Apologies, but (irony?) these articles are not available “openly”.)

Since two is too few, she offered these more recent pieces as well – true to her convictions, both of these links should open for everyone.

Ann Bartow, Fair Use and the Fairer Sex:  Gender, Feminism, and Copyright LawAm. UJ Gender Soc. Pol’y & L., 2006,

Greene, K.J. “Intellectual Property at the Intersection of Race and Gender: Lady Sings the Blues.” American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law. 16, no. 3 (2008): 365-385

These articles, along with Carys work, are fascinating.  It all makes me wonder, sometimes, what exactly I found so interesting about the Constitution….

New in Print! Pink Pirates: Contemporary American Women Writers and Copyright

I’m a sucker for a book with a great cover, and this one – despite having no picture – is a winner to my eye.   Surprising, really, since I loathe most shades of pink.  If you can’t make them out on your screen, the pattern is of little copyright marks ©.

Irr is a professor of English at Brandeis.  The product description/review of her book on amazon intrigued me (see below).  A colleague and I have been talking about how to write books that draw in the general reader, not just the academic expert.  What is it about construction, narrative, (marketing?) that enables a book to bridge that gap in a way that remains useful/accessible to both groups?  I’m sure it’s more than a great cover (although some academic books really waste that opportunity).  What I’m most interested in is not really her take on how gender registers in copyright cases.  My colleague Carys Craig has introduced me to some of these ideas which inform her work.  I’m no expert, but Carys is – you can find her article Reconstructing the Author-Self: Some Feminist Lessons for Copyright Law on SSRN (it appeared in the Journal of Gender, Social Policy and Law).  But Irr is a scholar of literature, so I am more interested in how she uses the fiction of women writers to construct her vision of copyright.

Examining controversies over the ownership of children’s literature, fashion designs, pornography, and song lyrics, Irr shows how gender registers in copyright cases.  She then turns to novels by Ursula Le Guin, Andrea Barrett, Kathy Acker and Leslie Marmon Silko to show how some writers have recovered a positive vision of the commons, setting this utopian creativity against the more restrictive economy of property rights. (Click here for source, Brandeis University)

Reviews (from Amazon.ca)

“Irr brings together compelling readings of contemporary American women writers, controversies over copyright, and feminist theory; it is also an impressive review and analysis of intellectual property law over the past two centuries. The readings of Le Guin, Barrett, Acker, and Silko are smart, meticulously well versed in the secondary literature and largely successful. Her argument is entirely convincing and the book is learned, lively, smart, and timely and should appeal to a wide array of readers in literary studies, law, and the general public.”—Michael Bérubé, author, The Left at War

“Caren Irr’s clever readings of intellectual property cases and fictional texts expose the complexity of copyright, what it means not only legally but also metaphorically. By examining how women writers have grappled with the concept and significance of ownership, Irr reveals their feminist critiques of market logic and their endorsement of what she calls ‘positive piracy.’ Pink Pirates’s creative, interdisciplinary approach gave me new ways of thinking about motherhood, sexual pleasure, domesticity, and the commons.”—Alison Piepmeier, author, Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism

Product Description

Today, copyright is everywhere, surrounded by a thicket of no trespassing signs that mark creative work as private property. Caren Irr’s Pink Pirates asks how contemporary novelists—represented by Ursula Le Guin, Andrea Barrett, Kathy Acker, and Leslie Marmon Silko—have read those signs, arguing that for feminist writers in particular copyright often conjures up the persistent exclusion of women from ownership. Bringing together voices from law schools, courtrooms, and the writer’s desk, Irr shows how some of the most inventive contemporary feminist novelists have reacted to this history.

Explaining the complex, three-century lineage of Anglo-American copyright law in clear, accessible terms and wrestling with some of copyright law’s most deeply rooted assumptions, Irr sets the stage for a feminist reappraisal of the figure of the literary pirate in the late twentieth century—a figure outside the restrictive bounds of U.S. copyright statutes.

Going beyond her readings of contemporary women authors, Irr’s exhaustive history of how women have fared under intellectual property regimes speaks to broader political, social, and economic implications and engages digital-era excitement about the commons with the most utopian and materialist strains in feminist criticism.