The entertainment industry has a convincing narrative when it comes to the ownership of creative work: it is property in the same sense that a house or car is property, and those who take without permission are thieves. My talk will explore other ways of framing this issue, drawing on the founding generation in the United States for models. How did men like Jefferson, Madison, Adams, and Franklin approach the ownership of what we now call "intellectual property"?
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About the speaker:
Lewis Hyde is a poet, essayist, translator, and cultural critic with a particular interest in the public life of the imagination. His 1983 book, The Gift, illuminates and defends the non-commercial portion of artistic practice. Trickster Makes This World (1998) uses a group of ancient myths to argue for the kind of disruptive intelligence all cultures need if they are to remain lively, flexible, and open to change. Hyde's most recent book, Common as Air, is a spirited defense of our "cultural commons," that vast store of ideas, inventions, and works of art that we have inherited from the past and continue to enrich in the present.
A MacArthur Fellow and former director of undergraduate creative writing at Harvard University, Hyde teaches during the fall semesters at Kenyon College, where he is the Richard L. Thomas Professor of Creative Writing. During the rest of the year he lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he is a Faculty Associate at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.