3298 – How Copyright Was Mutated To Benefit Corporations w/ David Bellos

Happy Monday! Sam and Emma speak with David Bellos, professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton University, to discuss his recent book Who Owns This Sentence?: A History of Copyrights and Wrongs, co-authored with Alexandre Montagu. First, Sam and Emma run through updates on Israel’s targeting of Al-Shifa hospital, the false UNRWA accusations, Russian elections, US realtors, SCOTUS, the sale of US Steel, the Federal Reserve, and Donald Trump’s legal woes, before parsing through objections from US representatives to the continued commitment to Israel’s obvious lies about UNRWA. Professor David Bellos then joins, diving right into the contemporary distinctions between patents, trademarks, and the monstrous world of copyright, with the former two requiring applications and reapplications, while copyright allows for extensive, long-term monopoly over intellectual property for both individuals and corporations. After briefly touching on the concept of intellectual property writ large, Professor Bellos steps back to look at the initially parallel histories of patents and copyright, both birthed alongside the creation and dissemination of the printing press in 15th Century Venice to provide a distinction between the limited ownership of newly-authored works and the public domain of older and classical art, also touching on the much longer (and more severe) history of trademarks stretching back through the medieval times. Moving forward, Bellos then walks Sam and Emma through how the evolution of the world of intellectual property over the 18th and 19th Centuries largely took place in Western Europe, with Paris and London leading the way to the 1886 Berne Convention while other Western states like the US seriously lagged, also touching on the lack of ideology or even rationality behind the slow but steady expansion of these rights, before parsing through the US’ 180º turn on intellectual property over the 20th Century as they came into their hegemonic station, not only signing onto Berne but forcing anyone who wanted help from the Neoliberal order to do so as well. Following a conversation on the particularly astounding role of employer or corporate ownership over intellectual property, they wrap up the interview with an assessment of IP’s role in stifling creativity, how major media companies would react to a complete overhaul of IP law, and what ideal reforms to IP would look like. Sam and Emma also update us on the Aldaghma family’s escape from Gaza.

And in the Fun Half: Sam and Emma watch Bibi Netanyahu’s response to Senator Schumer’s call for new Israeli elections, John from San Antonio previews some of the biggest primary races in tomorrow’s elections and touches on progressives’ failures in California, and the MR Crew parses through the highlights from Donald Trump’s insane rally for Bernie Moreno in Ohio – including an appearance from the January 6th Choir, and the differing responses to Trump’s “bloodbath” comments and his comments on migrants not being people. Fox works to normalize Trump’s actively genocidal rhetoric, Jo Snuffy and Kathy from South Dakota dive into the Biden Administration plan for a temporary aid port in Gaza, and Boeing’s controversies grow as a whistleblower is found dead, plus, your calls and IMs!

Check out David’s book here: https://fit.princeton.edu/publications/who-owns-sentence-history-copyrights-and-wrongs

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