2009: Volume 2, Issue 1, pp. 23-39

Copyright and Ethics: 
An Innisian Exploration

Meera Nair



The system of copyright offers more than contemporary perceptions would have us believe. Embedded within its design of control are ethical measures which enhance creative liberty. Properly handled, such measures facilitate the use, and protection, of the common stock of knowledge. This paper examines the intricacies of copyright via the contribution of Harold A. Innis (1894-1952). His expertise with communication, economics, and the law touch the very ambit of copyright. His passion for creating an atmosphere conducive to individual creative liberty has direct relevance to the goals of copyright. Copyright is deemed to function as the means to encourage both creativity and respect for individuality. The late James Carey (1934-2006) said, “Innis’ books . . . are not merely things to read, but things to think with” (Carey, 1981: 73). Innis’ ideas, particularly his belief that creativity is fostered through the interaction of mainstream thinking with conditions wrought by life in the periphery, show themselves not only in the construction of Canadian copyright law, but in recent interpretation as well.



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