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Lectures by Professor Sol Picciotto

The Sociology of Law in Corporate Capitalism: the Example of Software

This is a recording of the lecture given by Professor Sol Picciotto on Wednesday,22 November 2023 at the University of Warwick.


This talk will argue that the study of law in the economy should combine a sociological approach to the role of law and the practices of lawyering with a broad perspective from political economy of the development of corporate capitalism (Miola and Picciotto 2022). The approach is exemplified by tracing the legal construction of software, which has become foundational for economic and social practices (Picciotto 2023). Software’s emancipatory potential has become channeled to enable the social control of its users through a combination of proprietary protection, under both copyright and patents (despite fierce and continuing contestations), and standardised contractual licensing amounting to private legislation. In parallel, proprietary rights enabled the flood of low-cost finance that has powered the high-tech capital accumulation boom. This has been greatly boosted by international tax avoidance techniques, exploiting the indeterminacy of key concepts such corporate residence and the categorisation and source of income, which are particularly salient for intangible property.

Professor Picciotto was joined by Dr Hyo Yoon Kang as discussant and Professor Christian Twigg Flesner was chair. Hyo Yoon Kang is Reader at Warwick Law School. Her research focuses on intellectual property, knowledge techniques, transmissions and practices, construction of values and valuation practices, concepts of novelty and innovation, and legal and social theory. Christian Twigg-Flesner is Professor of Contract and Consumer Law at Warwick Law School. His research includes a focus on international commercial law in a digital economy.

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Lawyers as Creative Ideologists

This is a recording of the lecture given by Professor Sol Picciotto on Wednesday, 6 December 2022 at the University of Warwick.


Software has become the oxygen of the world economy, powering the digitalisation that has transformed business activities and social life. The forms this has taken have been moulded by lawyers, battling over intellectual property rights in computer programs, enshrined in the TRIPS agreement, as well as the international tax avoidance strategies that have helped propel the giant digitalised transnational corporations to global dominance. These contests have taken place through processes of formulation and interpretation of the legal concepts that both reflect and shape the social struggles over both economic and political power, mediated by law, in contemporary corporate capitalism.

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About the presenter:

Sol Picciotto is Emeritus Professor at Lancaster University and a Visting Professor at the GLOBE Centre Warwick Law School. He is a Senior Adviser of the Tax Justice Network, coordinator of the BEPS Monitoring Group, and a member of the UN Tax Committee’s subcommittee on dispute resolution. His research focuses on the taxation of transnational corporations with special reference to developing countries.