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Grant number like: FB-53614-08

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Lewis Hyde
Kenyon College (Gambier, OH 43022-5020)

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars
Research Programs

[Grant products][Media coverage][Prizes]

$33,600 (approved)
$33,600 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2008 – 8/31/2008

Intellectual Property and the Tension between Private Ownership and the Public Domain at the American Founding

Questions about the ownership of creative work are now usually approached in terms of property and thus of "theft" or "piracy." My work is an attempt to widen such discussions by rehearsing some of the other ways that creative work has been imagined. I am interested in particular in how the founding generation in the United States thought of what we now call intellectual property. Men like Franklin, Adams, Madison, and Jefferson approached copyright and patent as useful tools to "incite ingenuity" but also as a form of monopoly privilege to be carefully limited--limited so as to engender a "republic of letters," a commonwealth of ideas. Thus the book focuses on three other frameworks (in addition to property) within which the ownership of ideas has been approached: in terms of self-government, in terms of creative communities, and in terms of "public virtue," that is to say, in terms of the creative self imagined not as a private owner but as a collective or public being.