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Owning Ideas
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Book description

Owning Ideas is a comprehensive account of the emergence of the concept of intellectual property in the United States during the long nineteenth century. In the modern information era, intellectual property has become a central economic and cultural phenomenon and an important lever for allocating wealth and power. This book uncovers the intellectual origins of this modern concept of private property in ideas through a close study of its emergence within the two most important areas of this field: patent and copyright. By placing the development of legal concepts within their social context, this study reconstructs the radical transformation of the idea. Our modern notion of owning ideas, it argues, came into being when the ideals of eighteenth-century possessive individualism at the heart of early patent and copyright were subjected to the forces and ideology of late-nineteenth-century corporate liberalism.


'This book is a superb study of the transformation of American copyright and patent doctrine in the nineteenth century. Deeply researched, finely nuanced and lucidly presented. Owning Ideas will be read by literary scholars, cultural historians, Americanists generally and scholars in communications and media departments as well as by legal scholars. It will quickly become a classic.'

Mark Rose - University of California, Santa Barbara

'Building on the foundation established by Rose and Deazley in their histories of the invention of copyright in the eighteenth century, Bracha's brilliant intellectual history explains how the fundamental components of patents and copyright - authorship, the object of protection and scope of protection - were transformed over the nineteenth century. With amazing analytical clarity, as well as wonderful depth, Owning Ideas is the first sophisticated account of the development of the constitutive assumptions of modern American intellectual property law.'

Lionel Bently - University of Cambridge

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