Commons and Creativity by ProQuest


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									                                                                                                                       Commons and Creativity

 and Creativity
                                        The commons; common good; public domain; public utility.
                                        These concepts, though covering differing areas of interest,
                                        all share a grounding concern with what we intentionally share.
                                        Like national forests, these are the landscapes in which we
                                        share a common stake, a common investment from which we
                                        all, individually and collectively, take reward.

                                      I  t’s a good thing that information, as a
                                         commodity, is freely enough avail-
                                     able that we can take it for granted. That
                                                                                       Finding a balance between the lucrative IP
                                                                                   rights of corporations and the collective cultural
                                                                                   heritage is not easy, and it looks like it isn’t getting
                                    advances us all. The work of deciding what     any easier. In our sometimes rabid attempts to
                                  is “common” about this good, and what is         claim what’s ours and keep others from getting a
                                 conditional and private, goes on. As Glaxo-       cut from our hard work, we overlook the concept
                               SmithKline patents genes, as Monsanto ties          of the commons, of public good, of what we can
                             farmers down with “technology agreements,” as         all agree to share. And lest we slip too close to IP
                             Disney’s lawyers get set again to argue the case      communalism, laws and customs have to protect
                             for another extension of copyright protection for     the rights of the creative, so that they can con-
                             its eerie old trademarked cartoon animals, a          tinue innovating and continue receiving rewards
                             larger question looms: How far will moneyed           for their work.
                             interests be able to push their claims on intel-          But in our overly litigious culture, there has
                             lectual property (IP)? Copyright has grown from       been a marked shift of focus away from the com-
                             a 30-year span in the late 18th century to a 120-     mons. Perhaps such a shift is natural or at least
                             year span at the beginning of the 21st century.       cyclical, but it leaves information professionals
                             How long before the common good outweighs             and “knowledge workers” of all types in a vulner-
                             the good to any copyright claimant?                   able state. With less area left in which to move                                                                                                 October 2009         33
     Commons and Creativity

freely, we run the danger of slipping into a permanent culture              But we ain’t lawyers, so we ain’t going to try that. But buck up;
of paranoia about IP and copyright infringement. (“Open up,              the good senators on the Commerce, Science, & Transportation
four-eyes, we’re the copyright cops, and we’re coming in! We             Committee are busy working with it on our behalf.
know you went and uninstalled that DRM we had put in your
brain, so now you’ve got a looong life of dismantling hard drives        Public Domain and Time
in a a Beijing dump to look forward to.”)                                Travelin’ for Pesos!
   Many good articles have been written about fair use and                The Copyri
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