Owning Culture


Owning Culture: Authorship, Ownership and Intellectual Property Law

Owning-CultureOwning Culture demonstrates how intellectual property law has expanded to allow for private ownership of a remarkable array of things, from the patenting of human genes linked to breast cancer to the trademarking of the phrases «home style» and «freedom of ownership.» This book examines diverse areas of contemporary life affected by intellectual property law, including sampling practices in hip-hop music, the appropriation of Third World indigenous knowledge about the medical uses of plants, the effects of seed patenting on farming, and the impact of copyright law on folk music-making. By placing under scrutiny the individualistic, Western conception of the «author» that grounds intellectual property law, Kembrew McLeod shows how borrowing practices have been – and continue to be – central to cultural production. Additionally, this book highlights how intellectual property law facilitates the privatization of culture and the transfer of power into the hands of wealthy individuals and corporations. Clearly written, thoughtful, and thought provoking, Owning Culture provides an innovative approach to the study of culture and law.


“Kembrew McLeod’s lively and accessible book makes a persuasive case for the centrality of intellectual property law in shaping popular cultural practices. Rich in contemporary and historical examples that range from hip-hop sampling practices to appropriations of indigenous knowledge, ‘Owning Culture’ will serve as a great introductory text for students in communication, anthropology, and cultural studies.” (Rosemary Coombe, Canada Research Chair in Law, Communication, and Cultural Studies, York University; author of ‘The Cultural Life of Intellectual Properties: Authorship, Appropriation, and the Law’)

“This is the most accessible, entertaining, and compelling book on intellectual property law I have encountered. Kembrew McLeod uses an array of fascinating cases to show how intellectual property law impacts our culture. The results are a sobering demonstration of corporate power and the triumph of property rights over other freedoms.” (Professor Justin Lewis, Department of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Cardiff University, United Kingdom; author of ‘Constructing Public Opinion’)