Feminist Anthropology and Copyright: Gauging the Application and Limitations of Oppositions Models

AuthorB Courtney Doagoo
Feminist Anthropology and Copyright:
Gauging the Application and Limitations
ofOppositions Models1
  
 : The purpose of this brief chapter is to explore the applica-
tion of interdisciplinarity to intellectual property law, specically copyright
law, through the lens of feminist critiques. The paper attempts to demon-
strate how the application and limitation of the two oppositions models
oered by feminist anthropology intersect with copyright law. Specically,
drawing on examples from what is considered to be traditionally feminine
areas of creativity, the paper broadly examines the values we associate with
women, what they create, and how it is perceived and valued before the law.
: Le but de ce court chapitre est d’explorer l’application de l’in-
terdisciplinarité au droit de la propriété intellectuelle, plus particulièrement
au droit d’auteur, d’un angle critique féministe. Cet article essaie de dé-
montrer comment les applications et les limites de deux modèles opposés
oerts par l’anthropologie féministe s’entrecroisent avec le droit d’auteur.
Plus spécialement, en se basant sur des exemples de ce que l’on considère
comme des domaines traditionnels de créativité féminine, cet article exa-
1 I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Intellectual Property Workshop Com-
mittee (Professor Mistrale Goudreau, Professor Teresa Scassa, and Executive Director of
the Centre for Law, Technology and Society, Madelaine Saginur) for encouraging me to
participate in this tremendous project, and also for all of their help, patience, and guid-
ance. I would also like to thank the participants at the conference for their feedback, the
two peer reviewers, the student editors, and committee editor for all of their hard work,
dedication, and assistance.
188 •   
mine globalement les valeurs associées à la femme, la façon dont elle crée
et comment cette création est perçue et évaluée par le droit.
In recent years, scholars have revealed an interest in unravelling the inher-
ently patriarchal underpinnings of copyright law.2 Why certain kinds of
art, culture, and knowledge receive mainstream economic and legal pro-
tection while others do not is an important question that has far ranging
implications beyond law.3 Copyright protection or the lack thereof — for
creativity traditionally considered “feminine” such as decorative crafts,
needlework, and clothing4 is illustrative.5
While examining intellectual property, specically copyright, from a
traditional legal approach might yield a justication based on Lockean, He-
gelian, or utilitarian theories,6 an inquiry through the lens of interdisciplin-
arity allows for an alternate approach to understanding the origins of the
2 See, generally, Ann Bartow, “Fair Use and the Fairer Sex: Gender, Feminism, and Copy-
right Law” (2006) 14:3 Am U J Gender Soc Pol’y & L 551; Shelley Wright, “A Feminist
Exploration of the Legal Protection of Art” (1994) 7 CJWL 59; Debora Halbert, “Feminist
Interpretations of Intellectual Property” (2006) 14:3 Am U J Gender Soc Pol’y & L 431;
Carys J Craig, “Reconstructing the Author-Self: Some Feminist Lessons for Copyright
Law” (2007) 15 Am U J Gender Soc Pol’y & L 207; Dan L Burk, “Feminism and Dualism in
Intellectual Property” (2006) 15 Am U J Gender Soc Pol’y & L 183; Rebecca Tushnet, “My
Fair Ladies: Sex, Gender, and Fair Use in Copyright” (2007) 15:2 Am U J Gender Soc Pol’y
& L 273.
3 Wright, above note 2, states that “[t]he apparent gender neutrality of copyright is there-
fore questionable because of its association with the public world of the marketplace
which has, in European history, consistently marginalized or excluded women” at 70;
Tushnet, above note 2, asserts that “[c]opyright’s economic focus and the expense of liti-
gation will systematically lead to case law undervaluing non-market production, includ-
ing historically female creative practices” at 304; Tushnet also contends that although
seemingly neutral, the law is “entangled in ideas about gender and sexuality” at 304.
4 While clothing was produced by men and women, both prior to and after the eighteenth
century, these roles were not recorded with accuracy: see, generally, Madeleine Ginsburg,
“The Tailoring and Dressmaking Trades, 1700–1850” (1972) 6:1 Costume 64. “In 1859,
there are 23,517 London tailors. There is no eighteenth century estimate of professional
needlewomen or dressmakers but a high proportion of the women mentioned in the
Old Bailey Sessions Papers, a good cross section of London artisan life, so describe their
occupation” at 64.
5 Tushnet, above note 2, suggests that there is a tendency to compensate masculine activ-
ities whereas traditionally feminine activities such as "fashion, cooking, and sewing," do
not garner the same level of economic security at 303–4.
6 See, generally, Daniel J Gervais & Elizabeth F Judge, Intellectual Property: The Law in Cana-
da, 2d ed (Toronto: Carswell, 2011) at 34.

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