present purposes, the ‘intellectual commons’ refers
to information, where information is used as a
generic term to mean things like verified knowledge
(for example, the structure of the DNA molecule),
data, interpretations of that data, techniques,
information embodied in technology, the products
of technology (for example, music) and many other
discrete classes of information.
I will argue that monopoly rights in the form of
intellectual property rights are an especially bad
idea for the intellectual commons. Amongst other
things, information cannot be depleted through
Pharmaceutical, software and media companies
argue for and obtain, usually by means of trade
agreements, stronger and stronger forms of intellectual
property that are backed by the coercive power of civil and criminal law....In essence, private monopolists are using intellectual
property law to command our obedience
over new arrangements for the intellectual
The intellectual commons can be distinguished
from the public domain. The latter draws its meaning
from the laws of intellectual property, while the
former is a political expression of community when
it comes to social arrangements for use rights over
information. Hardin’s tragedy of the commons does
not apply to the intellectual commons. In fact, the
intellectual common is subject to the law of repletion.
It grows rather than depletes through use....A
negative common in which monopolists gain the
power of restriction over the commoners slows
down the operation of the law of repletion and,
more importantly, represents a net loss of freedom.
Self-organized positive intellectual commons will
become more prevalent as citizens conclude that
governments, because they have been corrupted by
the wealth of big business, will not deliver the
institutions of knowledge that citizens want.
Citizens will, through social licences, construct
variants of the positive intellectual commons that
maximize their use rights over the informational
assets that matter to their ends in life, commons
that will help to disperse the centralizing power of
private monopoly over information.
Peter Suber at 7/09/2006 07:29:00 AM.
The open access movement:
Putting peer-reviewed scientific and scholarly literature
on the internet. Making it available free of charge and
free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.
Removing the barriers to serious research.