Today, copyright is everywhere, surrounded by a thicket of no trespassing signs that mark creative work as private property. Caren Irr’s Pink Pirates asks how contemporary novelists—represented by Ursula Le Guin, Andrea Barrett, Kathy Acker, and Leslie Marmon Silko—have read those signs, arguing that for feminist writers in particular copyright often conjures up the persistent exclusion of women from ownership. Bringing together voices from law schools, courtrooms, and the writer's desk, Irr shows how some of the most inventive contemporary feminist novelists have reacted to this history.
Explaining the complex, three-century lineage of Anglo-American copyright law in clear, accessible terms and wrestling with some of copyright law's most deeply rooted assumptions, Irr sets the stage for a feminist reappraisal of the figure of the literary pirate in the late twentieth century—a figure outside the restrictive bounds of U.S. copyright statutes.
Going beyond her readings of contemporary women authors, Irr’s exhaustive history of how women have fared under intellectual property regimes speaks to broader political, social, and economic implications and engages digital-era excitement about the commons with the most utopian and materialist strains in feminist criticism.