On the Political Economy
of Copyright and Intellectual Property

I’ve been actively interested in copyright, and the broader but less coherent concept of “intellectual property” since the end of the 1990s. In 2000, I presented my first paper on the subject at a conference organised by the National Library of South Africa, and I’ve been active in the field ever since. It was clear to me even then that the “political economy” of the system of protection was not all that it seemed, and that significant financial and other interests were in play. Most of my work in the field since then has been aimed at discovering what copyright is really for, and who benefits from it.

Alan Story played a leading role, in the early years of this century, in putting together what gradually became the Copy South Research Group, and together with Alan, Joost Smiers and Debbie Halbert, I’m proud to say that I was one of the founders of that network. In the run-up to the Copy South workshop at the University of Kent in August 2005, I planned and drafted an early version of what later became the Copy South Dossier, and was one of the editors of the final published version, which is still freely available [see below]. I’m still closely associated with the Copy South Research Group, which has its own website here.

Decoration

Writings

♦ The political economy of traditional knowledge, trademarks and copyright in South Africa. In: The Sage Handbook of Intellectual Property edited by Matthew David and Debora Halbert (Los Angeles, London: Sage Reference, 2014), pages 263-278. Click here to download a PDF file of this text, size 970 kb.

♦ Politics, law and discourse: patents and innovation in post-apartheid South Africa. In: The Sage Handbook of Intellectual Property edited by Matthew David and Debora Halbert (Los Angeles, London: Sage Reference, 2014), pages 631-648. Click here to download a PDF file of this text, size 1.0 Mb.

♦ Ideology, illusion and the global copyright regime. In: The IALL International Handbook of Legal Information Management, edited by Richard A. Danner and Jules Winterton (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011), pages 97-113. Click here to download a PDF file of this text, size 1.9 Mb. An earlier version of the text was presented to the III International CopySouth Conference and is available both as a slide presentation in Portuguese [Ideologia e ilusão no sistema global de direito autoral. Trabalho apresentado ao III. Conferência Internacional «CopySouth» sobre Direito Autoral, Serviço Geológico do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, 30 de junho de 2010] (click here) and as a full conference paper from the CopySouth website (click here).

With Deborah Halbert and Alan Story. Education and development on the high seas of copyright infringement. Open Democracy, 21 June 2006. 3 pages. Click here to see this documents as HTML on the Open Democracy website, or here to view or download a PDF file, 41 Kb.

Edited with Alan Story and Deborah Halbert. The Copy/South dossier: issues in the economics, politics and ideology of copyright in the global south. Canterbury: Copy/South Research Group, 2006. 208 pages. Click here to view or download a PDF file of the entire book, 1.6 Mb.

♦ Digital divide or unequal exchange? How the Northern intellectual property regime threatens the South. International Journal of Legal Information vol.32 no.2, Summer 2004, pages 488-501. Click here to view or download a PDF file, 740 Kb.

♦ 'The best ideas are common property': copyright and contract law in a changing information environment. Innovation no.23, December 2001, pages 1-12. Click here to view or download a PDF file, 160 Kb.