Event Recap: Laws of Creation

BU Law celebrates the publication of Keith Hylton and former BU Law Dean Ronald Cass' book

keith hylton
R to L: Keith Hylton, Henry Smith, Mike Meurer, David Olson

The BU Law community gathered Monday, November 26 in Barristers Hall to salute the publication of Professor Keith Hylton’s book, Laws of Creation: Property Rights in the World of Ideas, co-authored with former BU Law Dean Ronald Cass.

Hylton and Cass’ comprehensive defense of traditional intellectual property laws offers a well-timed response to recent critics who claim that changing technology undermines the case for such legislation. Through a common law framework, they argue that technological advances in fact strengthen the need for property rights in order to incentivize investment in innovation.

To foster discussion, the celebratory symposium brought together three distinguished IP scholars—Professor Mike Meurer of BU Law, Assistant Professor David Olson of Boston College Law School and Professor Henry Smith of Harvard Law School—to comment on Hylton and Cass’ book. While Cass was unable to attend, Hylton was on hand to respond.

laws of creationDean Maureen O’Rourke offered opening remarks, praising Laws of Creation as an example of pertinent scholarship and Hylton as a “very serious and productive scholar” who “brings the orientation of law and economics to intellectual property law in a thoughtful and productive way.”

Professor Wendy Gordon, who served as moderator, complimented the scope of the project: “The book is very ambitious, ranging from examining the potential functions of property rights in a primitive state of nature to examining intellectual property in the context of the 21st century’s newest technologies.”

Similarly, the commentators commended the book in its clear, comprehensive and methodical overview of what is a largely disparate field. Professor Olson applauded Laws of Creation in its method as “the type of analysis that is not often considered clearly enough … as an approach to IP … and is well-needed.” Professor Smith added, “This is a really significant book, achieving a delicate task through a really interesting method and providing overview. I’m in awe that people are able to do so much in one book.”

keith hyltonIn his response, Professor Hylton remarked on how the collaborative writing process enhanced the end product by capitalizing on the authors’ diverse, individual strengths. While Cass’ expertise lies in legislation, Hylton’s general interest in frameworks in law and economics helped structure the book. He stated, “What was important to both of us is emphasizing the framework, the way of thinking about IP law that we thought had not been stated with sufficient clarity in recent literature, which has taken a very negative tone to IP.”

“This book is all about policy,” Hylton said. “If I were a student that was going to take an IP course, I would want to see this kind of policy analysis … and to see it early, before I took the course.”

BU Law congratulates Professor Hylton and Dean Cass on their exceptional work. Copies of the book are available through Harvard University Press’ Web site.


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