Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Use of Rhetoric When Discussing Intellectual Property Law

Patricia Louise Loughlan, University of Sydney, has published "`You Wouldn't Steal a Car': Intellectual Property and the Language of Theft," at 29 European Intellectual Property Review 401 (2007). Here is the abstract.

It is actually quite easy to tell a good guy from a bad guy when one of the guys is being called a thief. He is the bad guy. It is in fact quite hard to think of a thief as any sort of good guy at all once you have begun thinking about him, even just impressionistically, as a thief.

This paper will scrutinise and consider the legitimacy of the pervasive rhetorical use of the language of 'theft' in intellectual property discourse. That language, comprised of words like 'theft', 'thief', 'stealing' 'burglar's tools' and occasionally even 'robbery,' is increasingly employed to describe the unauthorised use of intellectual property, so that new social meanings become attached to acts such as the digital transfer of a musical file or a film:

YOU WOULDN'T STEAL A CAR
YOU WOULDN'T STEAL A HANDBAG
YOU WOULDN'T STEAL A TELEVISION
YOU WOULDN'T STEAL A DVD
DOWNLOADING PIRATED FILMS IS STEALING
STEALING IS AGAINST THE LAW

Download the article from SSRN here.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/media_law_prof_blog/2008/04/the-use-of-rhet.html

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