Dave Fagundes, University of Houston Law Center, and Aaron Perzanowski, Case Western Reserve School of Law, have published Clown Eggs, Creative Norms and the Social Value of Property Registers. Here is the abstract.
Since 1946, many clowns have recorded their makeup by having it painted on eggs that are kept in a central registry in Wookey Hole, England. This tradition, which continues today, has been referred to alternately as a form of informal copyright registration and a means of protecting clowns’ property in their personae. This Article explores the clown egg register and its surrounding practices from the perspective of law and social norms. In so doing, it makes several contributions. First, it contributes another chapter to the growing literature on the norms-based governance of intellectual property, showing how clowns—like comedians, roller derby skaters, tattoo artists, and other subcultures—have developed an elaborate informal scheme in lieu of state-created copyright or trademark law to regulate their creative production. Second, this Article explores a rarer phenomenon in the norm-based IP context: formalized registration related to norm-based ownership rules. It shows that the Register exists not only to support those rules, but also serves a host of non-property functions, including expressing members’ professionalism, conferring a sense of prestige, and creating a historical record. Finally, this Article shows how its analysis of the Register offers lessons for the study of norms and law more generally. It points the way toward pluralist theories of norms-based regulation, and it highlights the underappreciated non-property functions of other ownership registers in the context of tangible and intellectual property alike.
Download the article at the link.
At footnotes 89 and 122, the article cites to this blog's post, Clowning Around, guest blogger Professor Lee Ann Lockridge. Footnote 18 cites to Jacob Loshin's essay in Law and Magic: A Collection of Essays (C.A. Corcos, CAP, 2018).