Furbjr's Reviews > The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind

The Public Domain by James Boyle
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really liked it
Recommended to Furbjr by: freedombookclub.com
Recommended for: Conservatives, Libertarians, Liberals, authors

I read this, as it was selected by people participating in http://freedombookclub.com as their Book of the Month for October 2012.

I enjoy reading about intellectual property. I find the topic fascinating. But other books I have read clearly delineate that copyright/patents are either good or bad. Boyle's book makes a case that those protections are sometimes necessary. His argument was pretty convincing in some respects.

Boyle's main concern is that copyrights and patents are being misused to block things from entering into the public domain. I agreed very much with this. The author cites legal cases, laws, silly patents granted, and how our knowledge as a species grows upon the public domain.

As I was reading this at my place of employment a group of student athletes came into to purchase food. One of them asked what I was reading. When I showed him, he was amazed: what I was reading for pleasure was assigned reading for him. I hope that many people consider what Boyle has to say. This book is accessible for most everybody. It engages the reader in a studious, yet often humorous way, citing many an inane patent granted, but sets out seriously to address the misuse of intellectual property today.
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Quotes Furbjr Liked

“Given an area of law that legislators were happy to hand over to the affected industries and a technology that was both unfamiliar and threatening, the prospects for legislative insight were poor. Lawmakers were assured by lobbyists
a) that this was business as usual, that no dramatic changes were being made by the Green or White papers; or
b) that the technology presented a terrible menace to the American cultural industries, but that prompt and statesmanlike action would save the day; or
c) that layers of new property rights, new private enforcers of those rights, and technological control and surveillance measures were all needed in order to benefit consumers, who would now be able to “purchase culture by the sip rather than by the glass” in a pervasively monitored digital environment.
In practice, somewhat confusingly, these three arguments would often be combined. Legislators’ statements seemed to suggest that this was a routine Armageddon in which firm, decisive statesmanship was needed to preserve the digital status quo in a profoundly transformative and proconsumer way. Reading the congressional debates was likely to give one conceptual whiplash.
To make things worse, the press was—in 1995, at least—clueless about these issues. It was not that the newspapers were ignoring the Internet. They were paying attention—obsessive attention in some cases. But as far as the mainstream press was concerned, the story line on the Internet was sex: pornography, online predation, more pornography. The lowbrow press stopped there. To be fair, the highbrow press was also interested in Internet legal issues (the regulation of pornography, the regulation of online predation) and constitutional questions (the First Amendment protection of Internet pornography). Reporters were also asking questions about the social effect of the network (including, among other things, the threats posed by pornography and online predators).”
James Boyle, The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind

“At the moment, everyone gets a copyright as soon as the work is written down or otherwise fixed, whether they want one or not.”
James Boyle, The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind

“The history of patents includes a wealth of attempts to reward friends of the government and restrict or control dangerous technologies.”
James Boyle, The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind

“The precursor of copyright law served to force the identification of the author so that he could be punished if he proved to be a heretic or a revolutionary”
James Boyle, The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind

Reading Progress

October 6, 2012 – Started Reading
October 6, 2012 – Shelved
October 10, 2012 –
page 6
October 22, 2012 –
October 24, 2012 –
November 4, 2012 –
November 17, 2012 –
November 25, 2012 –
December 30, 2012 –
December 31, 2012 – Finished Reading

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