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Breaking and Entering My Own Computer: The Contest of Copyright Metaphors

Bill D. Herman

Hunter College Dept. of Film and Media Studies

Communication Law & Policy, Vol. 13, 2008

In the current debate over copyright law, those who support maximum copyright protections have advanced their agenda largely via the metaphor of ownership in physical property. As part of this metaphorical system, they have successfully argued that digital rights management (DRM) systems deserve legal protections befitting locked doors. This paper is a discourse analysis of this related system of metaphors and of opponents' metaphorical and non-metaphorical responses.

Scholars who oppose the maximalist vision of copyright have devoted considerable thought to the problem of metaphors, including especially the search for arguments including metaphors that can challenge the metaphor of property. This article concludes there is still more work to be done on this count. As an incremental contribution to this conversation, the article suggests additional arguments, including additional metaphors in search of a new means to conceptualize copyright law.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 59

Keywords: metaphor, legal rhetoric, discourse analysis, copyright, technical protection measures, digital rights management, digital media, technology law

JEL Classification: K39, K11

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Date posted: February 28, 2008  

Suggested Citation

Herman, Bill D., Breaking and Entering My Own Computer: The Contest of Copyright Metaphors. Communication Law & Policy, Vol. 13, 2008. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1098416

Contact Information

Bill D. Herman (Contact Author)
Hunter College Dept. of Film and Media Studies ( email )
695 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10021
United States
HOME PAGE: http://billyherman.com
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