Open Access Books & Resources

The Cultural Production of Intellectual Property Rights

Sean Andrews

The protection and accumulation of intellectual property rights—like property rights in general—is one of the most important contemporary American values. In his cogent book, The Cultural Production of Intellectual Property Rights, Sean Johnson Andrews shows that the meaning, power, and value of intellectual properties are the consequence of an extended process of cultural production.

Last Updated: August 1, 2018

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The protection and accumulation of intellectual property rights—like property rights in general—is one of the most important contemporary American values. In his cogent book, The Cultural Production of Intellectual Property Rights, Sean Johnson Andrews shows that the meaning, power, and value of intellectual properties are the consequence of an extended process of cultural production.

Johnson Andrews argues that it is deeper ideological and historical roots which demand that, in the contemporary global, digital economy, all property rights be held sacrosanct and all value must flow back to the legal owner.

Johnson Andrews explains that if we want to rebalance the protection of copyrights and trademarks, we should focus on undermining the reified culture of property that underpins capitalism as a whole. He outlines a framework for analyzing culture; situates intellectual property rights in the history of capitalist property relations; synthesizes key theories of media, politics, and law; and ultimately provides scholars and activists a path to imagining a different future where we prioritize our collective production of value in the commons.

This book looks at questions of intellectual property rights (IPR) -- historically, culturally, and politically -- and their relationship to law and the state. Arguing that the idea that intellectual property is another kind of property right (that is, that IP is a thing to be owned) exists in parallel with the idea that intellectual property is the consequence of a cultural process, Andrews discusses intellectual property rights within the context of cultural studies, treating them as an object through which intersecting cultural and political issues can be understood.

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