From Goods to a Good Life Intellectual Property and Global Justice Madhavi Sunder

Publication date:
26 Jun 2012
Yale University Press
272 pages: 235 x 156 x 24mm
1 b-w in text, 12 in text gallery
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There is general agreement that there are many holes in intellectual property law. Originally conceived as a means to stimulate creativity, it has become increasingly clear that, on one hand, the law can actually be used to stifle creativity. And, on the other hand, the law isn't needed to spur creativity.

In this highly original book Madhavi Sunder asks a simple question: why can't intellectual property laws be structured, or understood, in the same way that we understand real property laws - as an attempt to balance many competing economic, cultural and relational interests? She thus offers a way to reconceptualize IP law that takes into account the ways in which people want to learn and express themselves today, not outside of our culture, but within it. As such, she puts the "you" back into property theory - that people need to be able to shape culture and not just be passive recipients of it in a take-it-or-leave-it way.

Madhavi Sunder is professor of law at the University of California-Davis School of Law. She lives in Davis, CA.

Sunder's book is a bold challenge to scholars—and citizens—to push intellectual property policy beyond debates about innovation and efficiency into arguments about justice and well being.  Highly recommended."—James Boyle, author of The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind

“Madhavi Sunder's passionate and fascinating book should be required reading for everyone concerned about the future of cultural property in
our increasingly globalized world.  With her deft use of examples, her rich knowledge of many world cultures, and her broad vision of how law
can enhance human freedom, Sunder argues that one traditional focus of intellectual property law, economic efficiency, is too narrow. Efficiency is one important goal, but we should also consider how law affects people's capacity to participate in cultural production, to criticize tradition, and to pursue values of autonomy and mutual recognition.  Equally valuable for experts and the general public, this book will reshape the entire debate about culture as property.”—Martha Nussbaum, Law School, Philosophy Department, and Divinity School, The University of Chicago

“In this engaging book, Madhavi Sunder shows us why the ability to participate in culture is so important to human freedom, and why we must reform intellectual property to help everyone on the planet live a good life. This is a powerful argument for fair access to culture as a crucial component of global justice.”—Jack M. Balkin, Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment, Yale Law School

 "An imaginative reworking of the purpose and function of intellectual property law designed to go beyond efficiency and incentives to the plural values associated with freedom, equality, democracy, dignity, participatory culture, group formation, and simple joy. A pleasure to read with evocative examples of the ways the law can enable more of us to participate in collectively making meaning of our lives."—Joseph William Singer, Bussey Professor of Law, Harvard Law School