Parchment, Pixels & Personhood: User Rights and the IP (Identity Politics) of IP (Intellectual Property)

84 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2010 Last revised: 5 May 2015

Date Written: October 6, 2010


This Article challenges copyright’s prevailing narrative on personhood, which has typically focused on the identity interests that authors enjoy in their creative output. Instead, the analysis explores the personhood interests that consumers possess in copyrighted works. Drawing on a wide range of examples - from flag burning as copyright infringement, the Kookaburra controversy and the crowd-sourced origins of the Serenity Prayer to the reported innumeracy of the enigmatic Pirahã Amazonians, the apocryphal source of ancient Alexandria’s Royal Library and the unusually fragile nature of digital media - the Article advances a Hegelian refutation to intellectual property maximalism and a theory of copyright that recognizes the crucial link between identity politics and the legal regime governing the monopolization and control of cultural symbols and creative works.

Portions of this Article are from the forthcoming book, Infringement Nation: Copyright 2.0 and You (Oxford University Press, 2011).

Keywords: copyright, personhood, identity interests, user rights, flag burning, The Serenity Prayer, Kookaburra, Alexandria's Royal Library, the Pirahã, the Olympics, ACTA

Suggested Citation

Tehranian, John, Parchment, Pixels & Personhood: User Rights and the IP (Identity Politics) of IP (Intellectual Property) (October 6, 2010). University of Colorado Law Review, Vol. 82, No. 1, 2011, Available at SSRN:

John Tehranian (Contact Author)

Southwestern Law School ( email )

3050 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010
United States

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