Commons for Public Health - 2013

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Side-Event to the Economics of the Commons Conference – From Seed Form to Core Paradigm” (ECC).


Working Title: "Public Health, Seeds, Open Knowledge and Clean Tech: A Common(s) Pathway? - Discussing a Commons-based Knowledge Transfer and Innovation System"

Idea: Publicly funded research plays the key role in generating solutions to tackle major societal challenges – in health, food, green technologies, culture & arts, and other sectors. Yet within the current innovation and technology transfer paradigm, these inventions often do not reach their full potential to serve the public good. The current model of commercialization tends to entail restricted access to the fruits of public investment, lack of transparency, and monopolies - classical consequences of the enclosure of the (knowledge) commons.

Increasingly, initiatives are seeking ways to make publicly generated knowledge available for the greater common good. The “Open Access” movement is gaining momentum in the battle for access to knowledge. But intellectual property rights, for example patents, still constitute the basis for private commercial exploitation of knowledge. More public awareness and new civil society alliances are desperately needed, not only to reclaim the (knowledge) commons, but to co-develop frameworks, tools and legal mechanisms to protect them.

Different initiatives around the world currently struggle to "save our seeds" (as commons), achieve better “access to medicines” or disseminate “green technologies”, amongst others. These movements have independently started to design and to establish legal mechanisms and policy concepts that could foster the general availability of public innovations and protect them from re-appropriation. For instance, the "Free Software" and "Free Culture" movements protected software and content via the “Copyleft” mechanism.

We believe that all of these movements could benefit greatly from a joint analysis, an exchange of good practice and lessons learnt, and a debate on future strategies.

Date and Venue

Date: 21st May 2013

Venue: Venue: Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics, Luisenstr 57, 10117 Berlin



  1. Lukas Fendel, Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM)
  2. Dr. Peter Tinnemann, MPH, Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology, and Health Economics, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin


  1. Silke Helfrich, Commons Strategies Group
  2. Markus Beckedahl, Netzpolitik
  3. Prof Dr. Jacqueline Müller-Nordhorn, Berlin School of Public Health


Working Language: English

Participants: ca. 15

Event format: expert / discussion “salon”


The side event aims to convene stakeholders from the different movements, to

  1. share (legal) knowledge and expertise
  2. deepen joint understanding of knowledge as a commons
  3. mutually improve alternative knowledge innovation frameworks, licensing schemes and incentive mechanisms

with the ultimate goal of enhancing public research and development towards the public good.


The following agenda is a rough proposal and will be subject to alterations and adaptions along the way:

11:00 Keynotes (á 20 min)

1. Socially responsible licensing in the field of medicines: Where we come from, where we are heading.

  • Lukas Fendel, Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM)

2. Experiences and lessons learned implementing the Creative Commons

  • Mike Linksvayer, Creative Commons

12:00 Flash round:

Where do we stand in the various areas?

Seeds / Software / Creatives& Crafts / Medicines /…?

12:30 Pressure Cooker Session

(groups á 4‐5 persons working on answering the questions):

What is the way forward?

How can we develop links between the different networks to facilitate progress?

What joint strategies do we need?

13:30‐14:30 Lunch break

14:30 Presentations of different groups

4 á 15 minutes

Results of Discussion

15:30 Joint discussion

16:30 Next Steps and Strategies:

Share and discuss thoughts and ideas on:

1. legal analysis

2. advocacy/ lobby

3. public relations

4. linkages w/academic working groups


‐ Report to the ECC main conference

‐ Collation of rapport /paper release for further discussion


Confirmed participants (as of May 15, 2013)

  1. Mike Linksvayer, Creative Commons, USA
  2. Claudia Neubauer, Fondation Sciences Citoyennes, France
  3. Maya Tadzia, UFRRJ (Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro) Brazil
  4. Gino Cocchiaro, Natural Justice (works with communities in Africa, South Asia and Latin America, to facilitate processes that secure the rights of communities to their resources and knowledge), Australia / South Africa
  5. Talha Syed, Berkeley Law School, Canada / Pakistan
  6. Chris Watkins, Appropedia – a wiki website for collaborative solutions in sustainability, poverty reduction and international development, with a particular focus on appropriate technology, Australia
  7. David Bollier, Commons Strategy Group, USA
  8. Silke Helfrich, Commons Strategy Group, Germany
  9. Peter Tinnemann, Institute for Social Medicine, Charité Berlin, Germany
  10. Lukas Fendel, Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM), Germany
  11. Piet Jonas, Open Access Software, Apple Programmer, Germany
  12. Gregor Kaiser, Intellectual Property Rights and Agriculture, Germany
  13. Jonas Metzger, Social Scientist, “Seeds and Society in Namibia and Tansania”, University of Gießen, Germany
  14. Anna Betz, School of Commoning, specialist in the Health Commons, UK


We still have room for additional participants and would welcome anyone who is interested to contribute! To register, please get in touch with Lukas Fendel ([email protected]) or Peter Tinnemann ([email protected])