What I found interesting about Boyle’s use of law is the ways social imagination is very much a vehicle for the commodification and the privatization of knowledge productions. We see this in the politics of publishing in higher academia, music downloads (itunes), and film property rights. By social imagination, I am referring to what Boyle describes our human behavior and the assumptions we make about the world we live in (15). These assumptions become practices of privilege and oppression since it imagines a world of information regulation, policing, or censoring. Who has the right to claim authorship to information and who is merely recognized as the “source” of that information? As Boyle asserts, we must always recognize the social, cultural, economic and political contexts in which we live in and the complex ways it informs our material realities.
With neoliberal practices justifying and expanding global capitalism, Boyle believes that the world will “broadly [be] divided between manipulators of information and ‘sources’” (177). However, he proposes an alternative “rhetoric of entitlement.” Boyle says,
It is important to see the lacunae and contentious assumptions involved in a particular society’s discourse of entitlement –the language in which entitlement to that particular society’s primary resources is both described and justified. To have a critical understanding of rhetoric of entitlement in an information society, one would need an analysis of conventional discourse about information, as well as of the more complicated, more sophisticated, and more highly formalized version of that discourse provided by the language of microeconomics (178).
Two processes are occurring here that don’t negate the “author”/ “source” relationship, rather complicate it in order to illustrate the complex influence they have in our conceptualization of intellectual property rights. Therefore, to my understanding, it’s not so much that Boyle is demanding to give full intellectual property rights to the sources but to expand the public domain in order to address both the sources and audiences (183).
1. Although I certainly agree with Boyle’s argument I wonder what does “sensitivity to the needs of both sources and audiences” look like to the law? If language plays a huge role in interpretation, how would the law construct sensitivity, and how different would sensitivity look like to the needs of the sources and the needs of the audiences?
2. I am really curious to discuss the politics behind knowledge production in academic publishing. Why is plagiarism used as both a tool for protecting property rights and policing bodies? Think about the rules and regulations that exist regarding plagiarism, are they another form of social and intellectual control?