ECC2013/Knowledge Stream/Documentation

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Also see a relatively brief list of recommended readings, viewings, and reflections specific to stream themes and participants.

Introductory Material

The historical evidence on the negative role of IP:

  1. Historical record shows how intellectual property systematically slowed down innovation. Rick Falkvinge: Innovation Without IP - History
  2. How Copyright Caused the 19th Cy. UK To Lose Its Industrial Innovation Edge To Germany


Policy Proposals

  1. Ten Necessary and Urgent Measures to Protect the Knowledge Society: Exgae and friends
  2. Six Principles for a Open and Free Internet
  3. Lawrence Lessig: Five Proposals for Copyright Reform
  4. More radical: Seven Solutions In Favour of a Free Culture of Citizens Who Share
  5. Michael Carroll: The necessity of an actively ‘tagged’ digital public domain
  6. 10 Proposals To Achieve a Open and Free World: A synthesis of the Barcelona Charter for Innovation, Creativity and Access to Knowledge, proposed by the Free Knowledge Institute
  7. Ten Necessary and Urgent Measures to Protect the Knowledge Society: Exgae and friends
  8. Michael Geist in Canada: Seven Proposals for Copyright Reform
  9. Gerd Leonhard: Towards a Digital Music License, in the UK and the world (Open Letter to Peter Mandelson)
  10. Lawrence Lessig: Five Proposals for Copyright Reform (also: Five Internet Priorities for the U.S. Congress in 2007)
  11. Some Proposals for Patent Reform
  12. The Proposed WIPO Framework on Traditional Knowledge: Does it meet Indigenous People’s demands
  13. Alan Toner: Direct Payment Mechanisms as an Alternative to intellectual Property Rights
  14. Artists Want to Be Paid: The Blur Banff Proposal
  15. Jonathan Gray of the Open Knowledge Foundation: Three Proposals for a Public Domain Policy


James Boyle on the need for balance

"The first thing that our policymaker should do is realise that every time you protect somebody’s output, their intellectual work, you extend their trademark, you give them control over some gene sequence, some line of code, you have extensive software patents, you are raising the costs of the inputs to another innovator further upstream. The very first thing you do is look at that balance and say I want to get it right."

- James Boyle [4]

Stephen Downes: Copyright is Theft

"I argue in my article, copyright is essentially a means of allowing people to take what they've borrowed from elsewhere (like Paul Simon did in 'Graceland') and stamp the lable 'theirs' on it. Virtually nothing is completely original, but copyright acts as though the whole work was. It allows people to steal from the ideas, culture, language that we have all created in common and to lable it their own."

- Stephen Downes [5]

The basic truth about copyright and the public domain

“The purpose of copyright law has been to promote learning and the progress of knowledge. Two features of copyright law should provide the guide for how to respond to access concerns. First, copyright is an author’s right. This is definitional….

Second,…copyright is a time-limited right. Copyright expires so that the public may ultimately gain unlimited access and use rights. This also is definitional….

Therefore, by design, all copyrighted works are destined for the public domain….”

- Michael Carroll [6]

Three types of goods: Collaborative Goods show Anti-rivalry

In the rivalry dimension, we start at private goods that exhibit high rivalry, which means that use by one subtracts from the use by another. We move to public goods, which exhibit low rivalry, where use by one does not subtract from use by the other. For anti-rivalry goods, we hypothesize the opposite effect, use by one adds to the potential for use by another. In the excludability dimension, we start with private goods, where it is easy to keeping people out. We move to public goods, where excludability is difficulty. For inclusive goods, we hypothesize to the opposite effect – the benefit of pulling people in.

- Mark Cooper [7]

Free Must Always Also Mean Gratis!

I do not understand how you can have ‘libre’ freedom without ‘free as in beer’ freedom. While the latter does not necessarily imply the former, the former always implies the latter. If everyone can share X freely with others, than the cost will always be driven down to zero (hence X will have both freedoms); if people cannot so share, then X is, by definition, not “libre” free.

- Karel Fogel [8]

Copyright is an inefficient mechanism to protect creative work

While copyrights do provide an incentive for creative work, they are an extremely inefficient mechanism for this end. It is most efficient when items are sold at their marginal cost. Economists generally get infuriated about the economic distortions that are created when tariffs of 10 percent or 20 percent are placed on items like steel or clothes. In the case of copyrights, material that could otherwise be transferred at zero cost, instead commands prices of $15 for CDs, $30 for movies, and even higher prices for other items, entirely because of the government-granted monopoly. For this reason, the economic distortions created by copyright dwarf the economic damage caused by other forms of trade protection.

- Dean Baker [9]

From Profit-Maximization and Market-Orientation to Mission-Focused

Profit maximizing limits access to knowledge, by limiting it to paying customers. If anyone thinks this is just a side-effect of today's market incentives, then we can put the situation differently: Profit maximizing doesn't always limit access to knowledge, but is always ready to do so if it pays better. This proposition has a darker corollary: Profit maximizing doesn't always favor untruth, but is always ready to do so if it would pay better. ... Instead of hypnotically granting the primacy of markets in all sectors, as if there were no exceptions, we should remember that many organizations compromise profits or relinquish revenues in order to foster their missions, and that we all benefit from their dedication. Which institutions and sectors ought to do so, and how should we protect and support them to pursue their missions? Instead of smothering these questions for offending the religion of markets, we should open them for wider discussion. Should scholarly publishing, with all of its mixed incentives and hard choices, migrate closer to market-oriented end of the spectrum or to the mission-oriented end of the spectrum?

- Peter Suber [10]

It's Not about Distributing Content, but about Abolishing the Consumer-Producer Divide

The copyright industry today likes to present the problem as if internet were just a way for so-called “consumers” to get so-called ”content”, and that we now just got to have ”a reasonable distribution” of money between ISP’s and content industry ... It is totally wrong to regard our role as to represent “consumer interests”. On the contrary, it’s all about leaving the artificial division of humanity into the two groups ”producers” and ”consumers” behind. ... We are now pounding the old mass medial aura and we are in a state of transgressing the hierarchical consumer-producer society.

- Rasmus Fleischer of Piratbyrån speaking at the 2005 Chaos Communication Congress [11]

The Double IP Conundrum for Open Source Hardware

"Alternative IP models for personal fabrication technologies are in their infancy, and much more development of alternative IP models is needed in order to find the right balance between openness and commercial profitability. Products and objects fabricated from electronic blueprints will raise an additional challenge to intellectual property issues since there are two components that could be considered intellectual property: the electronic blueprints and the resulting physical object. As software designs proliferate and anybody with a machine can make anything, IP concerns threaten to block the free flow of new design ideas. Our patent system will be challenged by the deluge of legal questions generated when regular people get a hold of powerful design and manufacturing tools."

- Hod Lipson & Melba Kurman [12]

More Citations

The Meaning of the 21st century intellectual property wars

"Technological progress - from the Printing Press to the BitTorrent protocol - is what essentially drives cultural development and social change, what makes it possible to share ideas, embrace expressions, improve inventions and correct the works of the past. Human history is the history of copying, and the entirely defensive and desperate attempt to stall its advancement by the means of Intellectual Property - the proposition to ressurect the dead as rights holders and turn the living into their licensees - only indicates how profoundly recent advancements in copying technology, the adaptability and scalability they have attained, the ideas and habits they are creating, are about to change the order of things. What lies at the core of the conflict is the emergence of new modes of subjectivation that escape the globally dominant mode of production. The spectre that is haunting Intellectual Proprietors world-wide is no longer just the much-lamented "death of the author", but the becoming-producer and becoming-distributor of the capitalist consumer." [13]

Why DRM is broken:

"DRM is broken:Bits will never get harder to copy: the limits of copyright online. The problem is that until DRM started building legal restrictions on the use of cultural products into the hardware used to access those products, the relationship between technological capabilities, laws, and social changes was flexible enough to allow copyright laws to evolve with the times. When radio came along and enabled the broadcast of music that had previously been accessed through live performance or sheet music, the legal remedy of compulsory licensing enabled rights owners to be compensated and for a new medium for musical performance to grow. DRM, together with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which criminalizes circumvention of DRM measures, puts an end to that flexibility by instantiating in technology a social agreement that used to be mediated by courts: "DRM stops the change process" that been evolving since the establishment of copyright laws. "Fair use," fundamental to education, scholarship, and the arts, is broken because the rights holder, not a legal process, determines the boundaries, and "DMCA makes breaking DRM to enable fair use illegal."

- Jennifer Urban and Cory Doctorow [14]

Why drug patents are costing lives:

"Knowledge is like a candle, when one candle lights another it does not diminish its light.' In medicine, patents cost lives. The US patent for turmeric didn't stimulate research, and restricted access by the Indian poor who actually discovered it hundreds of years ago. 'These rights were intended to reduce access to generic medicines and they succeeded.' Billions of people, who live on $2-3 a day, could no longer afford the drugs they needed. Drug companies spend more on advertising and marketing than on research. A few scientists beat the human genome project and patented breast cancer genes; so now the cost of testing women for breast cancer is 'enormous."

- Joseph Stiglitz [15]

How copyright would kill the fashion industry:

"People don't buy new clothes because they need them--they buy them to keep up with the latest style. The fashion industry responds to our desires by churning out new designs at a rapid clip. But fashion designers don't maroon themselves on a desert island to create their work. Designers pay close attention to the work of their peers, and they love to mine the past for ideas. When they see something that they like, they copy it--or, in the argot of the industry, they "reference" it.... The result is the fashion industry's most sacred concept: the trend. Copying makes trends, and trends are what sell fashion.... And the trend-driven copying of attractive designs ensures that those designs diffuse rapidly in the marketplace. This, in turn, makes the early adopters want a new style, because nothing is less attractive than seeing your carefully chosen clothes on the backs of the hoi polloi. In short, copying is the engine that drives the fashion cycle."

- David Levine [16]


On IP:

  1. Against Intellectual Monopoly. by Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine [17]: the theoretical arguments on why IP cannot work and for Devolutionism, the gradual reduction of IP restrictions.
  2. Berry, David M. Copy, Rip and Burn: The Politics of Copyleft and Open Source. London, UK: Pluto, 2008
  3. Copyright in Historical Perspective, recommended by Lawrence Lessig as a key history of author's rights.
  4. Code. Essays on collaborative ownership and innovation. Ed. by Rishab Ayer Gosh.
  5. Understand Knowledge as a Commons. Great anthology of essays ed. by Charlotte Hess and Eleanora Ostrom, pioneering researchers on the commons.
  6. James Boyle. The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind. [18]
  7. Access to Knowledge: A Guide for Everyone. By Jeremy Malcolm et al. Consumers International, 2010. [19]
  8. Common as Air. Revolution, Art, and Ownership. Lewis Hyde. 2010 = directly addresses the Cultural Commons and the history of the privatization of knowledge
  9. In Praise of Copying. Marcus Boon Harvard University Press, 2010 [20]: "makes the case that “copying is an essential part of being human, that the ability to copy is worthy of celebration, and that, without recognizing how integral copying is to being human, we cannot understand ourselves or the world we live in
  10. Access to Knowledge in the Age of Intellectual Property by Gaelle Krikorian and Amy Kapczynski (eds.). Zone Books, 2010 [21]
  11. Common Cause. Information Between Commons and Property. Philippe Aigrain. [22] Unpubished, select version of: Cause Commune.

On the Genetic Commons:

  1. The Common Thread. By John Sulston: a nuanced defense of treating knowledge of the genome as a commons.
  2. Genes, Bytes and Emissions: To Whom Does the World Belong? Ed. by Silke Helfrich. Heinrich Boll Foundation, 2009 Intro ; Online version

Recommended Reading for the Wealth of the Commons anthology

Source: The Wealth of the Commons. A world beyond market and state. Ed. by David Bollier and Silke Helfrich. Commons Strategies Group. Levellers Press, 2012 [23]

  • Intellectual Property Rights and Free Trade Agreements: A Never-Ending Story, by Beatriz Busaniche [24]
  • The Code is the Seed of the Software, An Interview with Adriana Sánchez [25]
  • Copyright and Fairy Tales, by Carolina Botero and Julio César Gaitán [26]
  • Creative Commons: Governing the Intellectual Commons from Below, by Mike Linksvayer [27]
  • Freedom for Users, Not for Software, by Benjamin Mako Hill [28]
  • Emancipating Innovation Enclosures: The Global Innovation Commons, by David E. Martin [29]
  • Move Commons: Labeling, Opening and Connecting Social Initiatives, by Javier de la Cueva, Bastien Guerry, Samer Hassan, Vicente J. Ruiz Jurado [30]
  • Knowledge is the Water of the Mind: How to Structure Rights in “Immaterial Commons,” by Rainer Kuhlen [31]
  • Constructing Commons in the Cultural Environment, by Michael J. Madison, Brett M. Frischmann and Katherine J. Strandburg [32]

Directory of Knowledge/Culture/Scientific Commons

Knowledge/Culture Commons:

  1. Aesthetic Commons [33]
  2. Book Commons
  3. Communication Commons
  4. Cultural Commons [34]
  5. Digital Commons
  6. Educational Commons
  7. FLOSS Commons: see FLOSS as Commons
  8. Genome Commons
  9. Global Innovation Commons
  10. Global Integral-Spiritual Commons
  11. History Commons
  12. Information Commons ; Information as a Common-Pool Resource
  13. Knowledge Commons ; Knowledge as a Commons
  14. Learning Commons
  15. Libraries as Commons
  16. Media Commons
  17. Medical and Health Commons
  18. Museum as Commons
  19. Music Commons
  20. Open Education Commons
  21. Open Scientific Software Commons ; Open Source Science Commons
  22. Patent Commons ; Eco-Patent Commons
  23. Psychological Commons