Evoking strong images and marked by history, domain is a polysemous concept shared by private law and the law of intellectual property.
The term domain comes from the Latin dominium. It expresses the idea of a person’s power, a person’s domination, and corresponds to owners’ exclusive control over their things, their right to use and enjoy the property that they own. In this light, domain and property are synonyms.
The idea or the imagery of a domination, taken up again in the Middle Ages, offers another meaning, narrower, but still in use: the public domain, designating the entirety of the property belonging to the Sovereign, property which is, due to this, imprescriptible, unseizable, and inalienable.
When deployed as a metaphor, the expression public domain also designates the creations of the human mind that are not subject to an intellectual monopoly, in particular because this right has expired or has been abandoned. Rather than embody the idea of an assemblage of state-owned property or of an appropriation, the expression encompasses instead the incorporeal things which can be freely used. They are not under appropriation, and quite often cannot be appropriated. In this light, public domain and property would be antonyms…
From exclusive control of things to free use of them, the concept of domain evokes a set of metaphors which allow us to better grasp our conception of classical property and our conception of intellectual property.
Those interested in attending this second seminar will be able to consult the texts prepared by our panellists and, if they wish, publish their own comments (with the images of their choice) on the M&M website.
David Lametti, Tina Piper, and Pierre-Olivier Laporte
Publish your comments!
For this second seminar, we offer interested persons the possibility of publishing a comment on our website as to the text of one of our panellists.
Each comment must include a text with a maximum length of 600 words and, if possible, one or a few images meant to illustrate the principal ideas of the text.
These comments can be transmitted to us, before or after the seminar, by eric.labbe [at] mcgill.ca (email).