Roberta Rosenthal Kwall (DePaul University College of Law) has posted Is the Jewish Tradition Intellectual Property? The abstract follows.
Whether works of authorship should be protected from unauthorized changes and, if so, in what manner, are questions of endless fascination to intellectual property scholars. Jewish law is not typically considered a “work of authorship” although in many ways it can be so viewed. This article is concerned with exploring the Jewish tradition as intellectual or cultural property. It focuses on the human dimension of creativity embodied in the Jewish tradition, and how that dimension is manifested in the rabbinic interpretation of Jewish law. The resulting tradition — as it is embodied in both the Jewish texts and lived by the people — has afforded the Jewish people their unique identity throughout the ages. Simply put, the Jewish tradition is a very unique form of cultural property. This analytical framework has significant implications for how to negotiate the balance between preservation and development of the tradition.