Authorial Cartographies: Mapping Proprietary Borders in a Less-than-Brave New World

11 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2014

Date Written: 1996


"They're burning Bambi in Bangkok ... and Disney executives couldn't be happier." I want to further develop this; first to situate it historically, then to show how the author-function is at work in contemporary practices of map-making (mapping the biosphere and, it could be argued, mapping the genome.) Finally, I will return to the so-called "globalization" of intellectual property rights to ask some questions about the "global" and its relation to what I have elsewhere termed "gloca-cola-nation." It is something more than a coda, however, to add that the European bourgeois public sphere was forged precisely during a period of global European expansion and colonial occupation. Moreover, a case can be made that, like so many other Enlightenment concepts, Romantic tropes, and liberal legal principles, the constitutive elements of the author/work relationship were forged and articulated on colonial terrain in encounters with cultural others. Intellectual property laws (copyright, trademark, and publicity rights, specifically) enable author/owners to expropriate meanings and values generated by the creative activities of others - to prohibit them and/or to claim them as their own. Disney used its copyright and trademark interests in the Donald Duck characters in attempts to limit the circulation of the critical texts.

Keywords: Intellectual property, Colonialism, Globalization, Authorship

Suggested Citation

Coombe, Rosemary J., Authorial Cartographies: Mapping Proprietary Borders in a Less-than-Brave New World (1996). Stanford Law Review, Vol. 48, No. 5, 1357-1366, (1996), Available at SSRN:

Rosemary J. Coombe (Contact Author)

York University ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3


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