The Underlying Assumptions of the Digital Economy Bill

April 7th 2010 was the date on which the Digital Economy Bill (now Act) was crow-barred through the Houses of Parliament. Aside from the obvious unfairness of the Act’s methodology (see here), the underlying principles of intellectual property which it seeks to defend require careful revaluation in themselves.

To begin with, it is based on the notion of authorship. This idea was extensively critiqued by Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault in the 20th century. For Barthes, the figure of the author closed down the possibilities of a text. By killing the author and birthing the reader, limitless interpretations of a given text are possible. Foucault meanwhile saw the author as a potential figure for blame if a text is offensive, controversial, dangerous. The author can be punished for the text he/she created. Both are united in their view that authorship acts as a form of control, though one saw this as artistic control, the other social. (Ironically, it is not the nominal authors of a creative work that are likely to benefit from the Digital Economy Act; rather, it is the owners.)

Continue reading “The Underlying Assumptions of the Digital Economy Bill”

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Interview: Who Owns You? The Corporate Gold Rush to Patent Your Genes

Surely you own your own genes, don’t you? Think again. Presently, more than one-fifth of the human genome is fully patented. Corporations and universities now own the exclusive rights to many precious parts of you. We spoke to David R. Koepsell, author of Who Owns You? The Corporate Gold Rush to Patent Your Genes about what led him to write about the realities and implications of gene patenting.

Philosopher’s Eye: Why did you decide to write Who Owns You?

David Koepsell: One of my major research topics over the years has been the philosophical aspects of intellectual property. My first book, The Ontology of Cyberspace (Open Court 2000) explored the nature of IP in computerized media. I had been doing some reading on the Human Genome Project and was astounded to learn that genes had begun to be patented during the HGP, and well afterwards. Continue reading “Interview: Who Owns You? The Corporate Gold Rush to Patent Your Genes”