From paper to digitized expression: a treatment of intellectual property issues in application to rhetoric and technical communication



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Texas Tech University


Although the topic of intellectual property law is virtually absent from the range of scholarship in the field of rhetoric and technical communication, because control of intellectual property is tantamount to control of knowledge creation, it is an area of grave importance to participants in the field.

This dissertation examines the intersection among rhetoric and technical communication, the Internet, and intellectual property law. The study consists of two parts: the first is a pragmatic approach to understanding and applying the existing law; the second is a theoretical examination of the effect of the differing ideological stances on interpretation of intellectual property law. It also focuses directly on the effects of digitized communication and the impact of the Internet community on interpretations of the concepts of "authorship," "ownership," and "property." The study reveals that the ideological differences between the communities of rhetoric and technical communication and the Internet, and that of the legal community derive differing interpretations of "authorship," "ownership," and "property."

The dissertation concludes by arguing that to follow the dominant ideological stance of the legal community can lead to a definition of property that subverts the intent of the constitutional intellectual property statute and, in turn, effectively prohibits egalitarian access to the dialogic process of knowledge creation that supports the cultural development of society.