Publication Review: From Goods to a Good Life

From Goods to a Good LifeFrom Goods to a Good Life by Prof. Madhavi Sunder examines how, for the greater good, hard-edged commercialism in intellectual property law can (and should) be tempered by a healthy dose of social conscience and culture.

From the very outset, the author recognises the enormity of her task; challenging the centuries-entrenched focus of commercial endeavour that lies at the heart of international IP law sounds like an impossible task. Still, it a task Sunder takes on with gusto.

She poses an uncomfortable series of questions in which the value and composition of a “good life” are broken down and micro-analysed. Many readers may find the observations made by the author painful. The shallow materiality of the typical western way of life can be a difficult truth to acknowledge.

Sunder’s arguments focus on the need for intellectual property to be reconceptualised so that it takes better account of a plurality of stakeholders, social and cultural factors and various other 21st century considerations.

The author weaves a compelling web of arguments which span culture, commerciality, and philosophy – as well as the complex interplay between them. A colourful array of analogies and anecdotes add weight to her arguments and a richness to the text.

While it is pitched predominantly at the US market and legal system, the vast majority of points and arguments hold equally true for UK readers.

The book provides a refreshing, stimulating and thought-provoking read which is, for the most part, well-argued. It is let down only occasionally by a needless verbosity which can detract from the arguments being made and the flow of the text.

Every lawyer needs the chance to step away from black letter law and reflect on broader societal issues from time to time. From Goods to a Good Life provides exactly that opportunity.

It would make an excellent gift for any lawyer – past, present or prospective – as well as anyone who shares an interest in intellectual property law and its effect on the way we all live our lives.

From Goods to a Good Life was published on 23rd August 2012.

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