History of Intellectual Property in the U.S. Online Reading Group

The Berkman Center is hosting an online reading group on the History of Intellectual Property in the U.S. The group will loosely mirror a reading group led by Professor Lewis Hyde meeting in-person at the Berkman Center. We will generally read what the in-person group is reading the week after they read it. There will be about one reading per month, with 3 weekly rounds of discussion after the reading is posted. Readings will be chosen by the in-person reading group, and posted as the semester progresses.

To participate, click below:


Here is Lewis Hyde’s invitation to the reading group:

My own interest in this history began with the surprising lack of debate some years ago when copyright term extension was pending. There seemed to be almost no public sense of why it might matter to preserve a lively public domain. One was led to wonder if there weren’t historical roots to the public domain’s lack of presence in our political and economic discourse. If that is the case, might not an understanding of this history be a useful tool for those of us trying to shape current policy?

For a reading group I propose an initial meeting in February where we talk about the scope of our interests, and make a list of what we might read. I suggest one short first reading (Carla Hesse’s “The Rise of Intellectual Property, 700 B.C.–A.D. 2000” (Daedalus, Spring 2002)). As for other readings, we will decide these together but at the moment my own list would include works such as Mark Rose’s “Authors and Owners,” Siva Vaidhyanathan’s “Copyrights and Copywrongs,” and Edward Walterscheid’s recent book on “The Nature of the Intellectual Property Clause.”

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