Law, Knowledge, Culture
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Law, Knowledge, Culture

The Production of Indigenous Knowledge in Intellectual Property Law

Jane E. Anderson

This informative book investigates how indigenous and traditional knowledge has been produced and positioned within intellectual property law and the effects of this position in both national and international jurisdictions.
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Chapter 2: The Making of Intellectual Property Law

Jane E. Anderson


The appearance of intellectual property has been largely tackled in terms of an exploration of the emergence of its particular, distinctive categories and subject matter. As a subject of history, the most studied category has been copyright. Though not necessarily claiming the story of copyright as somehow representative of the history of all intellectual property laws, copyright historians have suggested a model of truth about intellectual property laws and a method of historical inquiry in general, directing historians towards discovering the origins of the relevant laws. What the origins of copyright have been taken to be has differed, reflecting diverse disciplinary approaches and interests. Publishers and booksellers put forward a version,1 legal historians have presented an account,2 literary theorists have offered another version,3 different from the Marxist perspective4 that, in turn, differs from the ‘postmodern’ perspective.5 In an overview of such histories, Kathy Bowrey notes how many of these histories fail to engage meaningfully with each other.6 Bowrey’s point is to highlight the striking reluctance in generating inter-disciplinary conversations. History shows that our understanding of copyright develops out of the interaction of a number of perspectives, even though few writers seem prepared to acknowledge this. At first each discipline wanted to pursue their own definition of the subject. Later on definitions were built in reaction to those earlier territorial claims. The argument was over deciding what the legitimate interests and concerns of copyright are and who is authorised to speak...

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