Structures of Sharing
Depropriation and Intellectual Property Law
Intellectual property law is concerned with control over the production and distribution of copies (“materially fixed expressions”) of ideas. Copies are in fact ubiquitous and the attempt to situate copies within a certain discourse or discipline relies on particular philosophical decisions that can be shown, historically and otherwise, to be finally political and ideological. If the copy always evades and exceeds disciplinarity, including “multidisciplinarity” and law, what do we do about these copies that are ultimately depropriated, that is, lacking a “proper” place or location, yet nonetheless recognizably present? The author explores the work of French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard as an example of an attempt to think and make a copy-based art that refuses the logic of IP, and argues that legal scholars need to consider broader issues of political economy when debating contemporary IP law.
Marcus Boon is Professor of English Literature at York University. He is the author of The Road of Excess: A History of Writers on Drugs (Harvard University Press, 2002) and In Praise of Copying (Harvard University Press, 2010). He writes about music for The Wire and Boing Boing. He is currently at work on a book entitled The Politics of Vibration. Website: www.marcusboon.com.