I got an interesting email from a woman named Susan Scafidi this weekend. Susan is an associate professor of Law at Yale University and author of a book entitled Who Owns Culture?: Appropriation And Authenticity In American Law
Susan also keeps an interesting and engagingly written blog entitled Counterfeit Chic on the topic of intellectual property for mostly -believe it or not- fashion. What a find! Even better, Susan has volunteered to answer questions or author a post on the topic…what would you like to read? Be sure to add your questions and ideas under comments please.
I close this post with a blurb of Who Owns Culture? pasted in from Amazon:
Americans are cultural copycats. White suburban youths perform rap music, New York fashion designers ransack the world’s closets for inspiration, and Euro-American authors adopt the voice of a geisha or shaman. The ownership of these art forms, however, remains contested. Do they belong to the community that originally generated them, or to the culture that has absorbed them?
While claims of authenticity or quality may prompt some consumers to seek cultural products at their source, the communities of origin are generally unable to exclude copyists through legal action. Like other works of unincorporated group authorship, cultural products lack protection under our system of intellectual property law. But is this legal vacuum an injustice, the lifeblood of American culture, a historical oversight, a result of administrative incapacity, or all of the above?
Who Owns Culture? offers the first comprehensive analysis of cultural authorship and appropriation within American law. From indigenous art to Linux, Susan Scafidi takes the reader on a tour of the no-man’s-land between law and culture, pausing to ask: What prompts us to offer legal protection to works of literature, but not folklore? What does it mean for a creation to belong to a community, especially a diffuse or fractured one? And is our national culture the product of Yankee ingenuity or cultural kleptomania?
Providing new insights to communal authorship, cultural appropriation, intellectual property law, and the formation of American culture, this innovative and accessible guide greatly enriches future legal understanding of cultural production.