Skip to content
BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access November 10, 2018

Authors, Inventors and Entrepreneurs: Intellectual Property and Actors of Extraction

Martin Fredriksson
From the journal Open Cultural Studies


The ideas and ideals of authorship and the discourse on property rights that emerged in parallel since the 18thcentury have come to form the bedrock of copyright law. Critical copyright scholars argue that this construction of authorship and ownership contributes to individualisation and privatisation of artistic works that disregards the collective aspects of creativity. It also embodies a certain kind of authorial character-or “author function” as Michel Foucault puts it-imbued with racial and gendered powers and privileges. While the gendered and racialised biases of intellectual property rights are well documented within copyright research, the commodification of ideas and cultural expressions relies on individualisation of creativity that is significant not only to the cultural economy but also to the 20th-century notion of the entrepreneur as the protagonist of capitalism. This article relates the idea of the entrepreneur to the deconstruction of authorship that was initiated by Foucault and Roland Barthes in the late 1960s, and the critique of an author-centred IPR regime developed by law scholars in the 1990s. It asks if and how the deconstruction of the author as a cultural and ideological persona that underpins the privatisation of immaterial resources can help us understand the construction and function of the entrepreneur in extractive capitalism.


Barthes, Roland. “The Death of the Author.” Image, Music, Text. Fontana, 1968/1977.10.1007/978-1-349-03518-2Search in Google Scholar

Bartow, Ann. “Fair Use and the Fairer Sex: Gender, Feminism and Copyright Law.” American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law, vol. 14, no.3, 2006, pp. 551-584.Search in Google Scholar

Biagioli, Mario. “Patent Republic: Representing Inventions, Constructing Rights and Authors.” Social Research, vol. 73, no. 4, 2006, pp. 1129-1172.10.1353/sor.2006.0001Search in Google Scholar

Blakeney, Michael. “The Protection of Traditional Knowledge under Intellectual Property Law.” European Intellectual Property Review, vol. 22, no. 6, 2000, pp. 251-261.Search in Google Scholar

Boateng, Boatema. The Copyright Thing Doesn’t Work Here: Adinkra and Kente Cloth and Intellectual Property in Ghana. University of Minnesota Press, 2011.10.5749/minnesota/9780816670024.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Boyle, James. Shamans, Software, and Spleens: Law and the Construction of the Information Society. Harvard University Press, 1997.10.4159/9780674028630Search in Google Scholar

---. “The Second Enclosure Movement and the Construction of the Public Domain.” Law and Contemporary Problems, vol. 66, No. 33, 2003, pp. 33-74.Search in Google Scholar

Cohen, Julie E. “The Biopolitical Public Domain: The Legal Construction of the Surveillance Economy.” Philosophy & Technology, vol 31, no. 2, 2017, pp. 213-233: doi: 10.1007/s13347-017-0258-2.Search in Google Scholar

Coombe, Rosemary. The Cultural Life of Intellectual Properties: Authorship, Appropriation, and the Law. Duke University Press, 1998.10.1215/9780822382492Search in Google Scholar

Craig, Carys J. “Symposium: Reconstructing the Author-Self: Some feminist Lessons for Copyright Law.” American University Journal of gender, Social Policy & the Law, vol. 15, no. 2, 2007, pp. 207-268.Search in Google Scholar

---. Copyright, Communication and Culture: Towards a Relational Theory of Copyright Law. Edward Elgar Publishing, 2011.Search in Google Scholar

---. “Feminist Aesthetics and Copyright Law: Genius, Value, and Gendered Visions of the Creative Self.” Diversity in Intellectual Property: Ideas, Interests and Intersections, edited by Irene Carboli and Srividhya Ragavan, Cambridge University Press, 2015, pp. 273-293.10.1017/CBO9781107588479.015Search in Google Scholar

Daly, Angela. “Legislating on Biopiracy in Europe: Too Little, too Late?.” Indigenous Intellectual Property. A Handbook of Contemporary Research, edited by Matthew Rimmer, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2015, pp. 365-381.10.4337/9781781955901.00026Search in Google Scholar

Drahos, Peter. Intellectual Property, Indigenous People and their Knowledge. Cambridge University Press, 2014.10.1017/CBO9781107295230Search in Google Scholar

Drahos, Peter and John Braithwaite. Information Feudalism: Who Owns the Knowledge Economy. The New Press, 2003.Search in Google Scholar

Drucker, Peter F. Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Practice and Principle. Heinemann, 1985.Search in Google Scholar

Eagleton, Terry. Ideology of the Aesthetics. Blackwell, 1990.Search in Google Scholar

Feather, John. Publishing, Piracy and Politics: An Historical Study of Copyright in Britain. Mansell, 1994.Search in Google Scholar

Foucault, Michel. “What is an Author?” Aesthetics, Method and Epistemology. The New Press, 1969/1998.Search in Google Scholar

Fredriksson, Martin. “Review of A Critical Guide to Intellectual Property, Matt Callahan & Jim Rogers.” International Journal of Cultural Policy, vol. 24, no. 4, 2018, pp. 559-561: in Google Scholar

---. “From Biopiracy to Bioprospecting: Negotiating the Limits of Propertization.” Property, Place and Piracy, edited by James Arvanitakis and Martin Fredriksson, Routledge, 2017, pp. 174-186.10.4324/9781315180731-13Search in Google Scholar

Gilden, Andrew. “Raw Materials and the Creative Process.” The Georgetown Law Journal, vol. 104, 2016, pp. 355-412.Search in Google Scholar

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von. “Selige Sehnsucht” [“Blissful Yearning”]. Goethes Werke, Gedichte und Epen II [Collected Works of Goethe: Poems and Epics II], C.H Beck, 1998, pp 18-19.Search in Google Scholar

Halbert, Deborah, J. Resisting Intellectual Property Law. Routledge, 2005.10.4324/9780203799512Search in Google Scholar

Hardt, Michel. “The Common in Communism.” Rethinking Marxism: A Journal of Economics, Culture and Society, vol. 22, no. 3, 2010, pp. 346-356.10.1080/08935696.2010.490365Search in Google Scholar

Hardt, Michael and Antonio Negri. Commonwealth. Belknap Press, 2009.10.2307/j.ctvjsf48hSearch in Google Scholar

Hemmungs Wirtén, Eva. No Trespassing: Authorship, Intellectual Property Rights, and the Boundaries of Globalization. University of Toronto Press, 2004.10.3138/9781442620896Search in Google Scholar

---. Terms of Use: Negotiating the Jungle of the Intellectual Commons. University of Toronto Press, 2008.Search in Google Scholar

Homestead, Melissa. American Women Authors and Literary Property. Cambridge University Press, 2005.10.1017/CBO9780511497919Search in Google Scholar

Jones, Campbell and Anna-Maria Murtola. “Entrepreneurship and Expropriation.” Organization, vol.19, no. 5, 2012, pp. 635-655.10.1177/1350508412448694Search in Google Scholar

Jones, Campbell and André Spicer. Unmasking the Entrepreneur. Edward Elgar Publishing, 2010.10.4337/9781781952689Search in Google Scholar

Kelly, Michael (ed.). Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, Oxford University Press, 1998.Search in Google Scholar

Litman, Jessica. “The Public Domain.” Emory Law Journal, vol. 39, no. 4, 1990, pp. 965-1024.Search in Google Scholar

Locke, John. Two Treatises on Government. McMaster University, 1690/2000.Search in Google Scholar

Marcal, Katherine. Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner?: A Story of Women and Economics. Pegasus Books, 2016.Search in Google Scholar

Meese, James. Networked Subjects: Exploring the Author, User and Pirate through a Relationist Lens. Swinburne University, 2013.Search in Google Scholar

Meese, James. Authors, Users and Pirates: Copyright Law and Subjectivity. The MIT Press, 2018.10.7551/mitpress/9780262037440.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Murtola, Anna-Maria. “Experience, Commodification, Biopolitics.” Critical Sociology, vol. 40, no. 6, 2014, pp. 835-854.10.1177/0896920513494230Search in Google Scholar

Oguamanam, Chidi. International Law and Indigenous Knowledge: Intellectual Property, Plant Biodiversity and Traditional Medicine. University of Toronto Press, 2006.10.3138/9781442676244Search in Google Scholar

Patterson, Lyman Ray. Copyright in Historical Perspective. Vanderbilt University Press, 1968.Search in Google Scholar

Pollack, Malla. “Towards a Feminist Theory of the Public Domain, or Rejecting the Gendered Scope of United States Copyrightable and Patentable Subject Matter.” William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law, vol. 12, no. 3, 2006, pp. 603-626. in Google Scholar

Posey, Darrell A. “Commodification of the Sacred through Intellectual Property Rights.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, vol. 83, no. 1-2, 2002, pp. 3-12.10.1016/S0378-8741(02)00189-7Search in Google Scholar

Robinson, Daniel F. Confronting Biopiracy: Challenges, Cases and International Debates. Earthscan, 2010.10.4324/9781849774710Search in Google Scholar

Robinson, Daniel, Danielle Drozdzewski and Louise Kiddell. “You Can’t Change our Ancestors without our Permission.” Piracy: Leakages from Modernity, edited by Martin Fredriksson and James Arvanitakis. Litwin Books, 2014, pp. 56-75.Search in Google Scholar

Rose, Mark. Authors and Owners: The Invention of Copyright. Harvard University Press, 1993.Search in Google Scholar

Schiebinger, Londa. Plants and Empire: Colonial Bioprospecting in the Atlantic World. Harvard University Press, 2004.Search in Google Scholar

Schillings, Sonja. “Piratical Constructions of Humanity: Innocence, Property, and the Human-Nature Divide.” Property, Place and Piracy, edited by James Arvanitakis and Martin Fredriksson, Routledge, 2017, pp. 65-80.10.4324/9781315180731-6Search in Google Scholar

Schumpeter, Joseph, A. Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. Harper & Brothers, 1942.Search in Google Scholar

---. Change and the Entrepreneur. Harvard University Press, 1949.Search in Google Scholar

Thompson, E. P. The Making of the English Working Class. Penguin, 1963/1991.Search in Google Scholar

Tushnet, Rebecca. “My Fair Ladies: Sex, Gender and Fair Use in Copyright.” American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy and the Law, vol. 15, no. 2, 2007, 273-304.Search in Google Scholar

Woodmansee, Martha. “The Genius and the Copyright: Economic and Legal Conditions of the Emergence of the ‘Author.’” Eighteenth-Century Studies, vol. 17, no. 4, 1984, pp. 425-448.10.2307/2738129Search in Google Scholar

Young, Edward. Conjectures on Original Composition. Longmans, Green & co., 1759/1918.Search in Google Scholar

Zipes, Jack. “The Enchanted Forest of the Brothers Grimm: New Modes of Approaching the Grimms’ Fairy Tales.” The Germanic Review: Literature, Culture, Theory, vol 62, no. 4, 1987, pp. 66-74.10.1080/00168890.1987.9934193Search in Google Scholar

Received: 2018-06-20
Accepted: 2018-10-10
Published Online: 2018-11-10
Published in Print: 2018-11-01

© by Martin Fredriksson, published by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License.

Scroll Up Arrow