Friday, January 22, 2010

Copyright as performative contradiction

So, one of the weird things I didn't talk about with Hardt & Negri's Commonwealth is that the book is, of course, copyrighted. Hundreds of pages, many of which deal explicitly with the need to move beyond property relations, especially in forms of affective and cognitive labor. That these forms of 'biopolitical labor' belong to the common, and by releasing that we only enrich each other and that labor by allowing it to stay in the common.

Now, I understand that publishing companies have a lot more to do with copyrighting than authors' wishes. But unless there is a back story I am unaware of (and if there is, please let me know) I sorta think that authors at the stature of Hardt and Negri could freely choose to publish with a smaller company without copyright or some sort of creative commons copyright without hurting their careers.

This clearly isn't the only case of copyright as performative contradiction, but it is one of most egregious I have seen.