As Jeff Tucker notes on the Facebook, “Good to see IP being discussed by religious thinkers. Few things seems crazier to me than the notion of a religion using the state to restrict access to its texts…”
I agree. I hope they take have some serious discussion of this issue. But given that many Catholics have been able to square their religion with their support of statolatry and war, it’s not a big surprise they can square the censorship of copyright with their obligation as Christians to spread the Word…
I note that one of the confirmed speakers is “Roberta Rosenthal Kwall, Raymond P. Niro Professor of Intellectual Property Law, DePaul University College of Law”—hmm, I wonder where she’ll land on the IP issue, pro or con? An IP law professor, and holding a chair named after the guy whose firm inspired the term “patent troll”…
Call for Papers: “Intellectual Property and Religious Thought”
Tell your friends who may be interested in participating in this! — Tom B.
CALL FOR PAPERS: “Intellectual Property and Religious Thought”
University of St. Thomas School of Law, April 5, 2013
The University of St. Thomas will hold a conference titled “Intellectual Property and Religious Thought,” on April 5, 2013, co-sponsored by the Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law, and Public Policy and The University of St. Thomas Law Journal. The conference will be held at the University of St. Thomas School of Law building in downtown Minneapolis.
The conference will bring together legal scholars, religious ethicists, religion scholars, and theologians for an interdisciplinary discussion of how religious themes, practices, and communities may inform and shape intellectual property law and policy. The time is ripe for such a conversation. The long, rich tradition of religious thought concerning property rights and obligations has only begun to be applied to the problems concerning intellectual property (IP) that are so central to the Information Age. The foundations for analyzing these issues are deeply contested culturally, as evidenced by the warring slogans “Copying is theft” and “Intellectual property is theft.” The Catholic Church and other religious bodies have issued brief but non-systematic statements on certain issues, such as biotechnology patents and access to patented medicines or seeds. Underlying cases such as Bowman v. Monsanto, now before the U.S. Supreme Court, are deep debates about social justice and the ownership of artificially created but naturally replicating things (in that case, patents on seeds)—both matters to which major religions have historically spoken. The conference and papers from it published in the University of St. Thomas Law Journal will be catalysts for this interdisciplinary conversation.
Keynote/featured speakers confirmed for the conference include (further invitations pending):
- Roberta Rosenthal Kwall, Raymond P. Niro Professor of Intellectual Property Law, DePaul University College of Law
- Paul Griffiths, Warren Professor of Catholic Theology, Duke University Divinity School
- Kevin Outterson, Associate Professor of Health Law, Bioethics, and Human Rights, Boston University School of Law
- Audrey Chapman, Joseph M. Healy, Jr. Chair in Medical Humanities and Bioethics, University of Connecticut School of Medicine
Two broad themes provide the framework for conference papers: the idea of creativity as gift, and the idea of stewardship of property as fundamental to ownership. These are meant to be highly flexible and allow for a wide range of topics, including but not limited to:
- Creativity as a gift: its implication for particular areas in copyright, patent, or other IP laws
- Limits on patentability, of living things or natural processes, in the light of religious frameworks
- Particular moral obligations of IP rights-holders, under stewardship or other religious themes
- IP and human development in religious perspectives, under frameworks such as “the preferential option for the poor” or others
- Analyses of particular creative/innovation industries or practices under religious norms and frameworks
- The role of religious norms or communities in (a) encouraging compliance with IP rights or (b) challenging IP rights
- Religious communities’ treatment of their own IP-eligible material