Her work addresses
the cultural, political, and social implications of intellectual property
laws. Her book, The
Cultural Life of Intellectual Properties: Authorship, Appropriation, and the Law is a legal ethnography
of the ways in which intellectual property law shapes cultural politics
in consumer societies. The book was awarded Honorable Mention (second prize)
in the Law and Society Association's Herbert Jacob Award for the best new book
in law and society scholarship (June 2000).
She has recently co-edited
(with Darren Wershler and Martin Zeilinger) a volume on the intersections between Canadian
copyright law, digital technologies, and practices of dynamic fair dealing. Dynamic
Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online (University of Toronto Press, 2014) includes contributions
from scholars, practitioners, and artists from various disciplines and genres to emphasize emergent approaches to
the creation, circulation, and management of digital cultural objects that challenge and/or present alternatives to traditional
paradigms of intellectual property and cultural policy.
Her next sole-authored work,
The Work of Culture in the Era of Informational Capital: Global Intellectual Property and Its Publics (in preparation),
explores how culture is increasingly used as a resource under conditions of economic neoliberalism.
The book explores international legal and policy norms and their local implementation, by indigenist
movements, NGOs and advocacy networks in Southeast Asia, and Andean and Amazonian South America. Coombe
examines the legal instruments used to protect cultural diversity, traditional knowledge, and cultural heritage
through the lens of human rights norms and practices. How and why have cultural claims been revitalized in the information
economy, and to what extent can appeals for the protection of cultural traditions serve progressive ends?
In addition to her research and writing, Rosemary J. Coombe has been developing an online infrastructure project for hosting Canadian cultural works online and influencing intellectual property policy.
Artmob is a multisectoral initiative designed to build large, accessible online archives of publically licensed Canadian art, and to foreground the issues that this process raises for Canadian copyright and intellectual property laws. It is part of an interdisciplinary team of researchers in close consultation with artists, cultural producers and cultural industry groups.
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Rosemary Coombe can be contacted by email: email@example.com