The Plot to Privatize Common Knowledge
"Over the past three decades, modern culture has become infatuated
with the idea that knowledge should be owned like real estate or stock
shares. The original idea, of course, is that copyrights, trademarks,
and patents reward people for their creative labors and thereby boosts
the common good.
But this line of thinking has come to resemble a kind of Market
Fundamentalism: copyrights, trademarks and patents are the only morally
legitimate and practical method for managing creations of the mind.
There is no middle ground. You either believe in intellectual property
rights, or you support 'theft' and 'piracy.'
This fundamentalist approach shuts down a broader discussion about how knowledge ought to circulate in our culture.... today, copyrights and patents are going far beyond their intended
goals—such as the US Constitution provision to 'promote progress in
science and the useful arts'—to become ends in themselves. Instead of
carefully balancing private interests and public needs, copyrights and
patents are becoming crude, anti-social instruments of control and