Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Library & Information Science

Supervisor

Dr. Samuel E. Trosow and Dr. Ajit Pyati

Abstract

This dissertation examines the ability of intellectual property and its alternatives to both facilitate and impede innovation. The thesis begins by positing that a more detailed and nuanced understanding of alternatives to intellectual property is required so that such alternatives can be effectively used to mitigate the problems of the expansionary intellectual property regime. The thesis is that substantive alternatives to intellectual property utilize a broader range of incentive structures to encourage the production and distribution of intellectual goods, facilitate greater access to such goods and their informational content and engender innovative outcomes that go beyond the narrow, instrumentalist goals of wealth creation and productivity growth. Using critical theory as a methodology the dissertation examines both the macro-level intellectual property regime as a whole and uses specific empirical case studies (the Songwriters Association of Canada’s proposal for a monthly fee on internet service providers and defensive publication). The analytical body of the dissertation begins with a critical examination of the expansionary intellectual property regime. It provides a framework for analyzing the case studies beginning with an examination of the incentives for the production and distribution of intellectual works, then scrutinizes the ability of intellectual property and its alternatives to incent innovative activity, and interrogates the ideological aspects of innovation including its use in theories of the information society. The two case studies are then analyzed focusing on the incentive structures used, their ability to generate innovative outcomes and the ideological assumptions of each case. The analysis of the case studies reveals that in its current form the Songwriters Association of Canada’s proposal is not a substantive alternative to intellectual property, but defensive publication is. The thesis concludes with a holistic analysis of intellectual property and its alternatives and provides specific recommendations. The thesis concludes that policymakers must provide greater support for substantive alternatives to intellectual property to increase innovative activity and address major political, social and economic problems. This dissertation makes a significant contribution to the understanding of alternatives to intellectual property and the nature of innovation.


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