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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

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Book Chapter

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Matthew David and Debora Halbert




Sage Publishing




This chapter is based on data collected as part of a larger qualitative empirical study based on face-to-face interviews with artists, scientists, engineers, their lawyers, agents and business partners. Broadly, the project involves the collecting and analysis of these interviews to understand how and why the interviewees create and innovate and to make sense of the intersection between intellectual property law and creative and innovative activity from the ground up. This chapter specifically investigates the concept of “progress” as discussed in the interviews. “Promoting progress” is the ostensible goal of the intellectual property protection in the United States, but what exactly “progress” means is largely a mystery – doctrinally, culturally and empirically. This chapter describes but avoids solving the mystery in terms of the theoretical literature and instead investigates the notion of “progress” in terms of the motives the interviewees provide for engaging in creative and innovative behavior that is (or could be) protected as intellectual property. Across the interviews, there are common themes that tie together specific notions of progress as related to personal desires as well as public benefits. The chapter will describe these themes and investigate whether and how intellectual property facilitates the various forms of “progress” envisioned or hoped for by the interviewees.

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