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The Eureka Myth: Creators, Innovators and Everyday Intellectual Property

Jessica Silbey, Suffolk University Law School

The book analyzes and elaborates upon a qualitative empirical study of artists, scientists, engineers, lawyers and businesspeople that investigates the motivations and mechanisms of creative and innovative activity in everyday professional life. Based on over fifty face-to-face interviews, the book centers on the stories told by interviewees describing how and why they create and innovate and whether or how IP law plays a role in their activities. The goal of the empirical project was to figure out how IP actually works in creative and innovative fields, as opposed to how we think or say it works (through formal law or legislative debate). Breaking new ground in its qualitative method examining the economic and cultural system of creative and innovative production, The Eureka Myth draws out new and surprising conclusions about the sometimes misinterpreted relationships between creativity, invention and intellectual property protections.

About Jessica Silbey

Professor Silbey's scholarship draws from her interdisciplinary background in the humanities and law. One of her interests is in intellectual property law, particularly in the investigation of "IP communities:" activities, groups and organizations with a particular creative or innovative focus. She studies the common and conflicting narratives within those communities in relation to intellectual property law and legal institutions that purport to regulate them. She is especially interested in the connections between cultural narratives of creation, discovery, incentive and labor and their legal counterparts in IP communities, statutes and legal cases. The empirical dimension of this project (conducting and analyzing interviews with artists, scientists and intellectual property professionals) will be published by Stanford University Press in 2014.

Another of her interests is in the interrelationship of law and film in legal practice and popular culture. Her research and writing in this area investigates how film and video are used as legal tools and how they become objects of legal analysis. A long-time interest since she was a graduate student in literature and film, her work explores questions such as: how does automated surveillance film become testimony in a court of law? How do cultural perceptions about film and video affect their evaluation by jurors, advocates and judges? How might legal actors and lay citizens mobilize the audiovisual technology of our twenty-first century to further the promises of our justice system? A current project in this area concerns ultrasound technology and the politics of reproductive choice.

Professor Silbey teaches courses in constitutional law and intellectual property.

Professor Silbey received her B.A. from Stanford University and her J.D. and Ph.D. (Comparative Literature) from the University of Michigan. Before joining the faculty of Suffolk University Law School, Professor Silbey was a litigator at the law firm of Foley Hoag LLP in Boston. She also served as a law clerk to the Honorable Robert E. Keeton on the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts and to the Honorable Levin Campbell on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.


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Past Event
Dec 2, 2014
12:30 PM - 1:30 PM