Book Review: Universities and Intellectual Property: Ownership and Exploitation

Date01 June 2003
AuthorRobert Burrell
Published date01 June 2003
Subject MatterBook Reviews
2003, RRP $360.00); 626 + lxvii pp.
Robert Burrell*
Over recent years there has been considerable interest in the intersection between
intellectual property rights and higher education. This interest is probably due in part
to the increased attention that is being paid to intellectual property matters generally.
There is, however, also a genuine sense that universities are in a unique position, being
both high volume users of material protected by copyright and other forms of
intellectual property and, at least potentially, owners of valuable rights over research
and teaching material. Moreover, there is a real concern in some quarters that an
emphasis on ownership and commercialisation of research is incompatible with the
unique role that universities have in disseminating knowledge and encouraging the
free flow of ideas. Universities and Intellectual Property: Ownership and Exploitation is
therefore timely. As the authors explain in the preface, this book is the end result of a
project started by Ann Monotti (now an Associate Professor at Monash University) in
1994, working here in conjunction with Professor Sam Ricketson, one of the world's
leading intellectual property scholars. As is to be expected from such a collaboration,
this is, in many respects, an impressive book.
Having set the scene, the authors begin their analysis in chapter 2 by analysing
critically the nature and role of universities. Drawing on an impressive range of
sources, the authors set out to show that the role of the university has evolved
continuously and that some of the claims that are made for the special status of
universities do not stand up to serious scrutiny. This chapter is the linchpin of the
book, since much of the authors' analysis rests on the premise that while universities
do play a distinctive and valuable role in modern societies, the onus is on those calling
for universities and academics to be treated differently with regard to intellectual
property matters to prove their case. One of Monotti and Ricketson's most significant
achievements is maintaining this clear and consistent theme over more than 500 pages
of detailed legal analysis.
The authors concentrate on three jurisdictions, namely, Australia, the United
Kingdom and the United States. The ambitious aim is to provide a work that can be
* Senior Lecturer in Law, Australian Centre for Intellectual Property in Agriculture (ACIPA),
Australian National University.

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