28 Sydney L. Rev. 211 (2006)
Pirates, Parasites, Reapers, Sowers, Fruits, Foxes ... The Metaphors of Intellectual Property

handle is hein.journals/sydney28 and id is 205 raw text is: Pirates, Parasites, Reapers, Sowers,
Fruits, Foxes... The Metaphors of
Intellectual Property
This article examines metaphor, its legal context and its communicative power
within that context. It briefly traces the existing literature on the general use of
metaphor in legal writing and then turns to the specific area of intellectual
property. noting the distinction between metaphor that is 'on the surface' of the
language and conventional or 'submerged' metaphor. Both the surface and the
submerged metaphors of intellectual property are examined, with a particular
emphasis on the latter, analysing the scope and potential rhetorical effect of
certain specific metaphors which are not absolutely unique to intellectual
property writing but which are very closely associated with it (as for example, the
terms 'pirates' and 'parasites' for unauthorised users of copyright works and the
comparison of authors and inventors to farmers who 'reap' and 'sow' and deserve
the 'fruits' of their labours).
1.    Introduction
I recently said to an intellectual property class that enforcing technological
protection measures, which prevent both illegal and legal access to copyright
works by denying legitimate, fair dealing with those works, was, 'keeping
everyone out of a public park because a few people are vandals.' I was
immediately challenged by a student who said that, given the prevalence of piracy,
a more accurate statement would be that such enforcement was more like, 'keeping
everyone out of a public park because 90 per cent of people are vandals'. The class,
which had until then been resting quietly as Monday morning classes tend to do,
immediately became invigorated. Students threw themselves into the discussion,
referring initially to the metaphor and refining it further ('more like 100 per cent'
or 'it's a trough, not a park') and then moving increasingly into an abstract
discussion of the appropriate limits to copyright protection in a society which
values freedom of expression and broad access to information.
* Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Sydney. I would like to thank David Rolph
and Ross Anderson for their help in tracking down metaphors for this article.
I George Lakoff& Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By (1980) at 5.

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