Lewis Hyde's book Common As Air - Revolution, Art, and Ownership was released about a month ago. The book offers a stimulating discussion of copyright and ownership of "intellectual property," areas that I have found unavoidable in my researches into "St. James Infirmary" and its ilk. We know something about how a song like "St. James Infirmary" grew organically, and what happened to the song when it was suddenly transformed into an owned thing, "protected" by copyright from the very processes that gave it life.
"Common As Air " brings a fresh perspective to questions - today more important than ever - arising out of ownership of the intangible. I recommend it highly - although I doubt that Irving Mills would have given it much praise.