Adrian Johns: "The Intellectual Property Defense Industry and the Crisis of Information"

Thu., Oct. 20, 2011, 5:00pm

The UBC node is pleased to support the 5th Annual Stephen Straker Memorial Lecture.

The Straker lecture is organized by STS at UBC, with the cooperation of the Departments of History, English and Philosophy.

This year's speaker will be:

Adrian Johns, University of Chicago
"The Intellectual Property Defense Industry and the Crisis of Information"
October 20, 2011 5:00 p.m.
Dodson Room (302) I. K. Barber Learning Centre


With the rise of the information economy has come the development of an industry devoted to policing that economy.  This industry is composed of both public institutions like the United States' FBI and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and private companies marketing protective and detective services.  Its primary focus is the major structuring element of the information world: intellectual property.  It seeks to uphold copyrights, patents, and trademarks where they exist, and to extend their scope to new domains where they do not.  It may therefore be called the Intellectual Property Defense Industry.  Although it is still largely unknown to the public, its history and conduct - I shall argue - have substantially shaped many of the everyday practices that constitute our culture of information.  Indeed, if, as many believe, that culture is facing a crisis, then it is a crisis sparked by the very institutions intended to preserve it. Professor Adrian Johns is the author of: Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates (2010) and The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making (2000).