Culture Wars on the Net: Intellectual Property and Corporate Propriety in Digital Environments
Special issue “Culture and the Law” edited by Gaurav Desai. Reprinted in William T. Gallagher, ed., Intellectual Property (a volume in the International Library of Essays in Law and Society, Aldershott: Ashgate Publishing, 2007) 579-608.
100.4 South Atlantic Quarterly 919-947
29 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2014
Date Written: 2001
The function of trademark law is to discursively construct and institutionally enforce particular notions of corporate identity as a property right. Intellectual property laws structure a field of meaning-making and thereby shape forms of symbolic practice. They create proprietary rights in a cultural commodity or commodity-sign — the trademark — and capacities to control its potential meaning and interpretation. The interconnected relationship between property and propriety is examined through an array of examples: from contestations over domain names, absolute ownership over trademarks and censorship, the emergence of digital communities comprising fan subcultures, as well as others. Ultimately, the Web has emerged as a digital battleground for corporate trademarks driven by the strategic logic of commodity fetishism, and counterhegemonic expressions of creativity, cultural meaning and identity formation, consumer choice, and labor rights structured through a guerilla logic of the populace.
Keywords: Trademark, Technology, Identity, Propriety
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