Intellectual Property and Americana, or Why IP Gets the Blues

35 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2008

See all articles by Michael J. Madison

Michael J. Madison

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law


This essay, prepared as part of a Symposium on intellectual property law and business models, suggests the re-examination of the role of intellectual property law in the persistence of cultural forms of all sorts, including (but not limited to) business models. Some argue that the absence of intellectual property law inhibits the emergence of durable or persistent cultural forms; copyright and patent regimes are justified precisely because they supply foundations for durability. The essay tests that proposition via brief reviews of three persistent but very different cultural models, each of which represents a distinct form of American culture: The Rocky Horror Picture Show; the town band of Chatham, Massachusetts; and the musical form known as the blues. It concludes that that the relationship between cultural persistence and law is more complex than is generally understood. The essay applies some of that more complex understanding to contemporary problems involving business models, notably the copyright dispute involving Google's Book Search program.

Keywords: business models, cultural production, social practices, copyright

Suggested Citation

Madison, Michael J., Intellectual Property and Americana, or Why IP Gets the Blues. Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal, Vol. 18, p. 677, 2008, U. of Pittsburgh Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2008-12, Available at SSRN:

Michael J. Madison (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law ( email )

3900 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States
412-648-7855 (Phone)
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