Copyright and Feminism in Digital Media
Dan L. Burk
University of California, Irvine School of Law
American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law, Vol. 14, No. 3, 2006
Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 05-12
Although feminist perspectives have contributed substantially to the development of both theory and practice in many areas of law, feminism has to date contributed relatively little to discussions regarding intellectual property. This paper examines the relationship between hypermedia and feminist discourse, critiquing the role of copyright in controlling or suppressing such discourses. Hypertext and related media may lend themselves to relational webs of meaning rather than linear progressions of meaning. Given the importance of non-hierarchical, associative webs to feminist discourse, digital media may lend themselves to feminist modes of thinking, or at minimum challenge dominant textual constructions. However, current copyright doctrine assumes that works remain linear, hierarchical, and controlled. The exclusive rights conferred by copyright, and most especially the right of adaptation, lend themselves to authorial control over not only the text, but to a reader's use of the text. This deterrent characteristic of copyright has appeared in several recent legal disputes involving hypertext linking and annotation. Thus, copyright remains hostile to non-traditional collaborative or relational user engagement. This hostility may ultimately frustrate copyright's purpose of promoting the "progress" of knowledge.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 31
Keywords: Feminism, hypertext, copyright, intellectual property, authorship
JEL Classification: O33, O34, K39, K40
Date posted: March 25, 2005 ; Last revised: October 9, 2015
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