by Raizel Liebler
Matthew David & Debora Halbert’s Owning the World of Ideas: Intellectual Property and Global Network Capitalism (Sage 2015) is an excellent short book about the past, present, and possible future of intellectual property — and where it fits into our worldwide economic system.
While barely over 100 pages, this book gives an intensive academic-directed overview of why intellectual property is confusing and complicated, not shirking about from the power dynamics involved in decisions about what intellectual property is protected and when. Chapters cover copyright, patents, trademarks, and traditional knowledge.
This book would be a great text for intellectual property survey classes, including undergrad classes, especially if used in tandem with John Palfrey’s practical Intellectual Property Strategy (MIT Press 2011). These two books together cover both the theory and practice of thinking about intellectual property in an easily understandable way. And The Sage Handbook of Intellectual Property (Sage 2015), edited by David and Halbert has chapters referred to in Owning, if readers (or professors) want to delve further.
One important note — the authors also consider the role of copyright in academia. They state “Academics gain from acknowledgement and citation and so largely write for nothing and promote free distribution of their work whenever possible. Payment is truly an afterthought. If you do not believe us — read the contract with our publishers!” (101)
Summary: Highly recommended academic summary of intellectual property.
(Disclosure statement: I was a chapter author for The Sage Handbook of Intellectual Property, the predecessor book for this one, but did not and will not receive compensation for my work.)