Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Call Me Pinko Commie Bastard

Dan Hunter, assistant-professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has a new paper out on SSRN: Culture War. It gives a nice analysis of the "pinko commie bastard" calling in the current American Intellectual Property debate, and provides some hybrid words like Marxist-Lessigism.

Here is the abstract:
Over the last ten years, much of copyright and patent has come under attack from those who suggest that capture by private interests has had a pernicious influence on public policy in this field. In the related areas of telecommunication spectrum management and internet regulation there have emerged strong arguments for not allocating private property interests, and instead considering these domains as commons property. I suggest that, together, these developments form part of a culture war, a war over the means of production of creative content in our society. I argue that the best way to understand this war is to view it as a Marxist struggle. However, I suggest that copyright and patent reform where commentators have actually been accused of Marxism is not where the Marxist revolution is taking place. Instead I locate that revolution elsewhere, most notably in the rise of open source production and dissemination of cultural content.
More from the essay:
Agents-provocateurs like Larry Lessig, Yochai Benkler, and Eben Moglen pen books and articles equating freedom and autonomy of individuals with a reform of the intellectual property system. And shot through all of this is the sense that private property interests here are out of control, and the shared commons of our culture is under attack.
This is the nature of the culture war which is currently being waged. Unlike the conflict between the left and right in US politics which is often called the culture war, this isn't a war between cultures, but a war over our culture. Who owns it, who controls it, who can use it in future, and how much it will cost? For the first time since intellectual property began its inexorable expansion there are signs of popular discontent at just what the private interests had taken from the public. [...] The culture war of intellectual property reform looks a lot like a Marxist class struggle, moved a hundred years forward, and translating the word property into intellectual property.
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Update: More at Crooked Timber


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