Intellectual property and racial bias

In her new book, The Color of Creatorship: Intellectual Property, Race, and the Making of Americans (Stanford University Press, 2020), Associate Professor of Communication and African and African Diaspora Studies Anjali Vats describes how narratives of “good” and “bad” intellectual property citizenship reproduce racial and colonial exclusion in U.S. copyright, patent, and trademark law. From the publisher: “Vats historicizes the figure of the citizen-creator, the white male maker who was incorporated into the national ideology as a key contributor to the nation’s moral and economic development. She also traces the emergence of racial panics around infringement, arguing that the post-racial creator exists in opposition to the figure of the hyper-racial infringer, a national enemy who is the opposite of the hardworking, innovative American creator. Vats argues that once anti-racist activists grapple with the underlying racial structures of intellectual property law, they can better advocate for strategies that resist the underlying drivers of racially disparate copyright, patent, and trademark policy.” Vats also holds a courtesy faculty appointment in the Boston College Law School.

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