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

Martin Fredriksson 1
  • 1 Department for Culture and Society, Linköping University,, Linköping, Sweden

Abstract

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.

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