Book Review: Resisting Intellectual Property

Date01 March 2007
Published date01 March 2007
Subject MatterArticles
‘the public interest’ in line with the democratic imperative would have made any real
difference to the nature and implication of regulatory intervention during the BSE-
and FMD-epidemics. While he contends that the pursuit of the public interest
requires ‘regulatory attention to be given to the potential impact of action or inaction
on the ability of all to act effectively as citizens’ (p. 252), it is by no means clear how
this might be translated into a workable decision-making structure – particularly in
relation to matters posing imminent risks to human health or the environment which
demand urgent intervention.
Without such guidance, Feintuck does little more than challenge existing concep-
tions and applications of ‘the public interest’. It is a shame that the book does not go
into greater detail on how the concept might become more than ‘an empty vessel’. As
it stands, Feintuck’s understanding of the public interest is exposed to the very criti-
cism that he makes of versions of public interest identif‌ied in his survey of regulatory
activity – that their inherent ambiguity hinders the formulation of a viable framework
through which values of democracy can be defended. This is not to say, however, that
the book as a whole does not provide a thorough and timely exposition of a central
issue in regulation. Although Feintuck does not solve problems of def‌inition and
application, he nevertheless makes a valuable contribution to an important and under-
researched subject.
Coase, R. H. (1964) ‘The Regulated Industries: Discussion’, American Economic
Review 54(3): 192.
Harden, I., P. Birkinshaw and N. Lewis (1990) Government by Moonlight: The Hybrid
Parts of the State. London: Unwin Hyman.
Manchester Law School, UK
DEBORA J. HALBERT, Resisting Intellectual Property. London: Routledge, 2005, 252 pp.,
ISBN 0415701279, £65 (hbk).
The key premise of this book is that intellectual property rights, through international
developments such as the TRIPs Agreement, and national developments such as the
US Digital Millennium Copyright Act 1998 and Copyright Term Extension Act 1998,
are ever-increasing and that resistance to this expansion is imperative. Halbert aims
to describe the emergence of resistances in the areas of copyright and patent law. By
so doing, she seeks to highlight that intellectual property discourse need not be domi-
nated by corporate voices and that alternatives to intellectual property may be imag-
inable in the future.
Halbert explores, ‘a growing level of resistance, both theoretical and practical, to
the over-expansion of intellectual property rights’ (p. 6) in a range of areas – from
copyright and the public domain (Chapter 1); to software licensing and open source
software (Chapter 2); copyright and peer-to-peer f‌ilesharing of music (Chapter 3);
patents for key pharmaceuticals (Chapter 4); patenting of biotechnological inventions
(Chapter 5); and, f‌inally, protection of traditional knowledge (Chapter 6). Of these
chapters, three (Chapters 1, 3 and 4) are revised versions of previous publications.
In Chapter 1, ‘Theorizing the Public Domain’, Halbert draws on Carol Rose’s
work to characterize the public domain in two ways. The f‌irst refers to the organized

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