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IP = Intellectual Property

"Everybody is connected to everybody else, all data that can be shared will be shared: get used to it."

- Eben Moglen

The basic argument of copyright abolitionists is that people should be free to share when sharing does not result in any diminution of supply.

- Karl Fogel [1]

This page is maintained by Michel Bauwens, Nicholas Bentley.

Introductory Statement

This page started originally as the resource page for what is generally called "intellectual property", which encompasses the very different regimes of copyright, patents, and trademarks.

However, we will extend the coverage of this section to ownership of physical objects as well, though the framework for rival physical goods is of course very different from that of non-rival or anti-rival immaterial goods.

For the latter, we expect that non-reciprocal Peer Production will expand without too much difficult, and this calls for a regime for the free distribution of cultural and intellectual production.

For physical goods, which carries heavy costs, regimes of reciprocity and exchange are more appropriate, since it involves the allocation of scarce goods. Here, there is room for peer-informed modes of production and ownership , rather than pure peer production.

Following the advice of Richard Stallman, we are not using the concept of Intellectual Property. Stallman is opposed to using an abstract concept for what are three distinct areas of copyright, patent, and trademark law.

Most of what is called "intellectual property" is not only objectionable on the pragmatic grounds that it hinders innovation, but on the more principled ground that it is designed to prohibit freely cooperating communities. Further expansion of peer production and governance is impossible without the prior availability of free and open cultural raw material.

Introductory Resources

The essential discussions:

On Peer Property

We recommend checking out our entry on Peer Property, which is a form of the Common and creates a Commons

On Commons-oriented Software Licenses

  1. Richard Stallman argues forcefully, that we should not use the muddled concept of IP, and explains Why Software Should Not Have Owners.
  2. Patrick Anderson explains the difference (and deep similarity) between Ownership of Software vs. Ownership of Goods, and says open property models could be extended once we accept that the user (and not the worker) is the owner of the physical means of production. See also his proposal for User Ownership
  3. Karl Fogel explains how the General Public License uses Copyright to obtain the opposite effect of guaranteeing sharing: Stallman's Jiujitsu

On Copyright

  1. Let's 1) Question Copyright; 2) Defend the Right to Create; and 3) avoid Monopoly through Intellectual Property
  2. The Promise of a Post-Copyright World, examines the history of copyright and finds it is meant to protect distributors, not creatrive authors. See also the video presentation by author Karl Fogel. Please note that Copyright is Not a Right! This is an essay from a radical anti-copyright point of view, which rejects the Creative Commons compromise: Copyright, Copyleft and the Creative Anti-Commons
  3. John Perry Barlow's famous 1994 essay The Economy of Ideas, is still very much worth reading.
  4. Martin Springer has a set of Critical Questions regarding IP and participation
  5. If you are from the South, Robert Verzola's Cyberlords as a rentier class is recommended reading.

On Patents

  1. The Negative Effects of the Patent System


Can Open Source Licences be used in Science?


Jennifer Urban and Cory Doctorow:

""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." (

Josef Stiglitz, on 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." (

Recommended Articles, Reports, etc...

  1. Some_Myths_About_Intellectual_Property: the basic arguments outlined
  2. The Open Society Institute on User Rights, Copyright and DRM in the EU
  3. More in our archive of articles on Peer Property and IP developments.

Recommended Books

Copyright in Historical Perspective, recommended by Lawrence Lessig as a key history of author's rights.

Recommended Delicious Tags

Intellectual Property [2]; Open Content[3]; FLOSS [4] P2P-Filesharing [5]; Creative Commons [6]; Copyleft [7]; GPL [8]

and other appropriate tags are at

P2P Hall of Fame: Copyright Theory Experts

P2P Copyright Theory Hall of Fame: Richard Stallman (General Public License) Lawrence Lessig [9] (Creative Commons and Free Culture movement), James Boyle [10](IP developments), Nicholas Bentley (Intellectual Contributions Theory), Ben Moglen (Free Software Foundation legal counsel), Peter Suber [11](Open Access, Jessica Litman (Digital Copyright); David Bollier [12][13](Commons); Cory Doctorow (anti-DRM activism); Stephen Dowes [14] (e-learning and learning objects)

Peter Drahos [15] (author of books The Philosophy of Intellectual Property and Information Feudalism)


Pages in category "IP"

The following 200 pages are in this category, out of 1,026 total.

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Media in category "IP"

The following 14 files are in this category, out of 14 total.