Techdirt Reading List: The Public Domain: Enclosing The Commons Of The Mind

from the don't-forsake-the-public-domain dept

We’re back again with another in our weekly reading list posts of books we think our community will find interesting and thought provoking. Once again, buying the book via the Amazon links in this story also helps support Techdirt.

Every year at the beginning of January, we post a story about all the works that should be entering the public domain in the US, but aren’t. That’s always based on a blog post from Duke’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain, which is led by professor James Boyle. Every time we do this, some people seem to ask what’s such a big deal about the public domain anyway, and I usually like to point such people to Boyle’s own book on the subject: The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind.

The book is a wonderful exploration about the public domain, why it’s important and how problematic it is that it’s been systematically cut off and starved. And, yes, before you ask, if you want a free copy of the book that’s available too (though, obviously buying a copy supports both Boyle and us (if you use our Amazon link above). Beyond being educational about the public domain, the book is very readable and entertaining as well. For some reason, people who aren’t immersed in this stuff sometimes think that issues like the public domain need to be dry and boring, but much of it is really fascinating. If you don’t feel like reading the whole book, but just dipping in for parts, I highly recommend Chapter 6, entitled I Got a Mashup. Though, once you read that, it hopefully will make you want to read the entire thing. I’ve found it one of the most useful books in showing just why the public domain is so important, and why it’s so disastrous that it’s been closed off for so long.

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