Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Public Domain: enclosing the commons of the mind

University Channel Podcast republished an RSA lecture with Professor James Boyle about Intellectual Property that I reviewed last month and which I think is extremely worthwhile. For those who haven't heard it yet, this lecture is warmly recommended and here is my review again:

Here is one of the most interesting and exciting lectures I have heard in the past months. Speaker James Boyle, who spoke on the same subject on Thinking Allowed earlier this month, made an impressive argument for radically relaxing our concepts and rules about intellectual property, for the benefit of science, culture and economy.

Boyle spoke at the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (podcast: RSA Current Events), after his book The Public Domain. He argues that the current rules for intellectual property, that, in the process of international harmonization, are getting more and more rigid are actually harming cultural, scientific and economic life. The rules are shutting too much valuable material out from the common use and thus harms the common interest.

The paradoxical thing is that with the emergence of the internet we are in fact experiencing the wonderful, counterintuitive blessings of openness and common use in open-source software, bottom-up knowledge (wikipedia) and speedy disclosure of information (a.o. with Google), while at the same time raising the thresholds of intellectual property. The internet that originally was set-up to serve science actually stumbles over IP rights and finds scientific material barred, leaving the common use with none, dated or second rate material. Boyle pleads to adapt the open character of the internet to much more material today in order to fully enjoy the wealth of intellectual sources that exist.

More RSA:
Israel and Palestine,
Terror and Martyrdom,

More Thinking Allowed:
The weekly social science stop,
Substance and Sociology,
Hole in the Wall,
Moral relativism,
Male Immaturity.

More UChannel Podcast:
Middle East challenges,
Good climate for everyone (global warming),
Robots and War,
Sudan and the fallacy of nationhood,
Against intervention.

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