What is Intellectual Property Right Law?

LRCM: On Feminist Analyses of Intellectual Property Rights Law  February 10, 2013 – 12:58 am
Intellectual Property Laws

There has been some feminist analysis of copyright law, and this is obviously worth looking at closely.

Our legal framework is assumed to work from and support a neutral (read: diverse) human base of access to resources, when in fact it does not. We know this already, when we think about it: family law is almost wholly gendered, by design; employment law less explicitly so. Copyright, at least according to Ann Bartow (in “Fair Use and the Fairer Sex, ” published in The Journal of Social Policy and the Law, Vol 14:3, pp 551-583) would be similar to the latter variety of laws—containing language that may not be explicitly gendered, but fostering outcomes that affect men, women, and transfolk differently. (The Copyright Act of 1976, she points out, goes so far as to use gender-neutral language, including references to a creator’s “children” and this gender-neutral substitute for widow or widower: “the author’s surviving spouse under the law of the author’s domicile at the time of his or her death, whether or not the spouse has later remarried” [p 555].)

Yet to Bartow, “Copyright laws were written by men to embody a male vision of the ways in which creativity and commerce should intersect” (p. 557).

I would state this differently, and this is one reason I find feminist analysis important, but not always correct. In my experience men tend not to gender their expressions, ideas, or plans at all. In fact, for four years of teaching on gender and cultural production (in my SAIC course Ladydrawers) I have begun each semester with the writing assignment “describe a time you felt gendered.” Women and trans folk come back with a variety of answers: when I was very very young, on my way to school this morning when someone harassed me in the street, whenever I shop for clothes, etc. But only one cismale that has ever taken this course has ever had a first response substantially different from: “I have never been gendered and have no idea what you’re talking about.” (A black cismale student once implied that he had been raced, but never gendered, to which I had to explain that unless someone had asked him to state a pronoun preference, then he had always clearly been gendered male.)

Source: Democracy Guest List

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