The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind

The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind

In this enlightening book James Boyle describes what he calls the range wars of the information agetodays heated battles over intellectual property.

Boyle argues that just as every informed citizen needs to know at least something about the environment or civil rights, every citizen should also understand intellectual property law.

Because intellectual property rights mark out the ground rules of the information society, and todays policiesare unbalanced, unsupported by evidence, and often detrimental to cultural access, free speech, digital creativity, and scientific innovation.Boyle identifies as a major problem the widespread failure to understand the importance of the public domainthe realm of material that everyone is free to use and share without permission or fee.

Read Online The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind

The web was created for science and it works for porn, shoes, twits, farce and books but really stymies science information because of bizarre intelligence bars.

The author points out the untenability of "moral rights"-based defences of IPR, (i.e., the 'single genius author' is a myth, as everyone "stands on the shoulders of giants", or at least the 'giant' referred to as the Public Domain) it basically argues for evidence-based IP legislation, and to that end it gives a number of arguments that together fundamentally attack the idea that there is such a thing as a "tragedy of the commons", and especially that government-instituted private monopolies are the only way to prevent that situation from occurring.

He introduces the reader not just to current intellectual property law but also to the more abstract notion of what it is we're trying to protect and what we're trying to remote through the use of copyrights and patents.

In "The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind" author James Boyle recounts showing the Library of Congress website to his grandson who then asked him, "Where do you click to get the book?" Sadly, the answer is that free access to most of the creative works of the past century are locked up by copyright law. This book is an important "must read" for librarians, educators, and others involved in intellectual and creative pursuits.

Today, warns author James Boyle, huge swaths of the worlds artistic and cultural heritage books, photographs, films, musical recordings are locked up in governmental and private libraries and unavailable for distribution to the general public.

But other books I have read clearly delineate that copyright/patents are either good or bad. Boyle's main concern is that copyrights and patents are being misused to block things from entering into the public domain. The author cites legal cases, laws, silly patents granted, and how our knowledge as a species grows upon the public domain.

Perhaps my favorite of recently read books in this genre, but that's probably as much due to the fact that I'm very clear on the arguments now (and in agreement), so I could just enjoy the content.

This book is a down-to-earth look at what intellectual property is (it is an artificial right created by governments, not a natural right as many of us believe), what it is for (to encourage innovation, not to discourage competition), and where it is headed (toward longer and stronger rights for IP owners and their descendants). The author states repeatedly that he is not anti-intellectual property. As someone with no professional background in law or intellectual property, most of this book is fairly simple and easy to understand. Today's culture has such a biased view on intellectual property, and such a careless attitude towards our intellectual commons that we don't realize how badly things are headed.

In doing so he, in his own words, makes nine key arguments about intellectual property and while I may not agree with all of his positions and the detail of his case his nine arguments have helped me, as a non-lawyer, make sense of many of the issues that I am trying to grapple with in my paid work as an academic in an increasingly commercialised, commodified and marketised higher education system. This summary is drawn from pg 205 at the opening of perhaps the most damning chapter in the book where Boyle outlines the ideological, that is the evidence-free, basis of almost all developments in intellectual property law and policy in both the US and Europe (one of the welcome elements of the book for me as a non-US- based reader is that Boyle attempts to address both US and other jurisdictions making clear the ways that developments on both sides of the North Atlantic (and elsewhere) have impacts well beyond their national contexts. And for those of us who are interested in how the popular politics of intellectual property might develop, he also makes a compelling case to consider the history and development of environmental politics since the 1950s as a broad coalition of interest, pressure and activist groups with a broad mutual and common concern amid all their differences.

  • English

  • Nonfiction

  • Rating: 4.09
  • Pages: 336
  • Publish Date: December 9th 2008 by Yale University Press
  • Isbn10: 0300137400
  • Isbn13: 9780300137408