Intellectual Property: A Very Short Introduction

ISBN : 9780195372779

Siva Vaidhyanathan
136 Pages
111 x 175 mm
Pub date
Jan 2016
Very Short Introductions


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  • Provides a comprehensive and engaging introduction to copyright, patents, trademarks, and other forms of knowledge that are subject to global law and regulation
  • Clarifies the fight over the global standardization of intellectual property, one of the most important sites of tension and conflict in North-South global relations today
  • Makes readers aware of the intellectual property systems all around them, discussing case studies of famous brands such as Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Amazon, and Google

We all create intellectual property. We all use intellectual property. Intellectual property is the most pervasive yet least understood way we regulate expression. Despite its importance to so many aspects of the global economy and daily life, intellectual property policy remains a confusing and arcane subject. This engaging book clarifies both the basic terms and the major conflicts surrounding these fascinating areas of law, offering a layman's introduction to copyright, patents, trademarks, and other forms of knowledge falling under the purview of intellectual property rights. Using vivid examples, noted media expert Siva Vaidhyanathan illustrates the powers and limits of intellectual property, distilling with grace and wit the complex tangle of laws, policies, and values governing the dissemination of ideas, expressions, inventions, creativity, and data collection in the modern world.

Vaidhyanathan explains that intellectual property exists as it does because powerful interests want it to exist. The strongest economies in the world have a keen interest in embedding rigid methods of control and enforcement over emerging economies to preserve the huge economic interests linked to their copyright industries-film, music, software, and publishing. For this reason, the fight over the global standardization of intellectual property has become one of the most important sites of tension in North-South global relations. Through compelling case studies, including those of Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Sony, Amazon, and Google Books, Vaidhyanathan shows that the modern intellectual property systems reflect three centuries of changes in politics, economics, technologies, and social values. Although it emerged from a desire to foster creativity while simultaneously protecting it, intellectual property today has fundamentally shifted to a political dimension.


Chapter 1: How to Read Starbucks; or Why Intellectual Property Matters More Than You Think
Chapter 2: Copyright, Commerce, and Culture
Chapter 3: Patents and their Discontents
Chapter 4: Trademarks and the Politics of Branding
Chapter 5: Other Rights: Domain Names, Publicity, Trade Secrets, Data, and Designs
Conclusion: The Politics of Resistance and the Access to Knowledge Movement
Useful Web Sites

About the author: 

Siva Vaidhyanathan is a Professor of Media Studies and Law at the University of Virginia. He is a frequent contributor on media and cultural issues for The Chronicle of Higher EducationNew York Times MagazineThe NationMSNBC.com, and Salon.com. He is the author of several books, including Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and The Anarchist in the Library: How the Clash Between Freedom and Control Is Hacking the Real World and Crashing the System.

"In the course of a book tracing the legal paths by which ideas about intellectual property has traveled, Vaidhyanathan illuminates conflicting truths... In this smart, engaging book, surprisingly provocative for a short introduction, he won this reader." - Karin Wulf, The Scholarly Kitchen

"A wonderfully accessible avenue into a wholly confusing topic, making it another truly spectacular addition to the OUP Very Short Introduction series. This is a book for law buffs, experts on rules and regulations, and anyone looking to widen their economic and political understanding of the world or make a splash at an incredibly specific pub quiz." - Jade Fell, Engineering & Technology

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