Politics of IP

Is politics a dirty word? Not when it's part of a book title. And for those who enjoy thinking/worrying about the political dimensions to IP, this book is just for them: it's Politics of Intellectual Property: Contestation Over the Ownership, Use, and Control of Knowledge and Information, edited by Sebastian Haunss (University of Konstanz, Germany) and Kenneth C. Shadlen (London School of Economics and Political Science).

What does this collection of essays offer? In short, "empirical analyses of conflicts over the ownership, control, and use of knowledge and information in developed and developing countries". As the publishers explain,
"Sebastian Haunss and Kenneth C. Shadlen, along with a collection of eminent contributors, focus on how business organizations, farmers, social movements, legal communities, state officials, transnational enterprises, and international organizations shape IP policies in areas such as health, information-communication technologies, indigenous knowledge, genetic resources, and many others. The innovative and original chapters examine conflicts over the rules governing various dimensions of IP, including patents, copyrights, traditional knowledge, and biosafety regulations.

Written from a political perspective, this book is a must-read for political scientists, sociologists and anthropologists who study IP and conflicts over property. It is also an essential read for stakeholders in institutions, NGOs and industry interested in knowledge governance and IP politics".
The IPKat is pleased with the timely appearance of this book. There's a great deal of IP-kicking going on at the moment, much of it coming from economists -- whose discipline is inherently uncomfortable with the notion of the monopoly -- and plenty of it coming from "political scientists, sociologists and anthropologists who study IP and conflicts over property" too. This book provides a valuable one-stop-shop for anyone who wants to get a better appreciation of the grounds on which IP is understood, analysed, criticised and tested out by those who are not always as favourably disposed towards IP as the Kats may be but whose critical comments are (at least in theory) shaped by their scholarship, not by their self-interest.

The contents are tilted more towards patents than towards other IP rights (trade marks have rarely hogged the political limelight, and these essays were compiled a little too early to catch the current political debate over copyright), and they visit destinations as far afield as Kerala, Thailand, Australia and Latin America. This reviewer especially liked Lars Bretthauer's essay, "Intellectual Property Rights in the Digital Movie Industry: Contemporary Political Conflicts in Germany", but all the chapters offer much food for thought.

Bibliographical details: published 2009. ix + 249 pages. Hardback. ISBN 978 1 84844 303 7. Price £59.95 (with publisher's online discount £53.96). Rupture factor: low. Web page here.
Politics of IP Politics of IP Reviewed by Jeremy on Sunday, January 17, 2010 Rating: 5

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