Silent Theft: The Private Plunder of Our Common Wealth / Edition 1

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Overview

Until a 1998 federal court decision, a Minnesota publisher claimed a monopoly on access to all federal court decisions. A Texas company recently filed a patent on a kind of rice grown in India for centuries. Other businesses now claim ownership of mathematical algorithms embedded in software, valuable public lands acquired for five dollars an acre, and icebergs that they plan to transport and sell as fresh water. In Silent Theft, David Bollier argues that a great untold story of our time is the staggering privatization and abuse of our common wealth. Corporations are engaged in a relentless plunder of dozens of resources that we collectively own -- publicly funded medical breakthroughs, software innovation, the airwaves, the public domain of creative works, and even the DNA of plants, animals, and humans. Too often, however, our government turns a blind eye -- or sometimes helps give away our assets. Amazingly, the silent theft of our shared wealth has gone largely unnoticed because we have lost our ability to see the commons. Spooling out one outrageous story after another, Bollier skillfully weaves together debates about the Internet, the environment, biotechnology, and the communications revolution. His fresh and compelling critique illuminates a rarely explored landscape in our political and cultural life. Crisp and revelatory, Silent Theft is a bold attempt to develop a new language of the commons and, in the face of a market order that knows no bounds, to outline an ambitious new project for reclaiming our common wealth.
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Editorial Reviews

Bill McKibben
A calm reasonable primer on a topic of enormous importance. Buy a copy, and when you've read it, donate it to that wonderful commons called your local library.
Ralph Nader
A tour de force narrative that draws the reader into high alert...
Lawrence Lessig
This beautifully written, carefully argued book shows how little we learned from the past. Free and open resources have always been central to creativity and growth; Bollier shows how in a range of important contexts, free and open resources are being enclosed, to the benefit of the corporate class, and burden of Americans generally.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415932646
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 3/28/2002
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

David Bollier has worked for twenty years as a journalist, activist, and public policy analyst. He is Senior Fellow at the Norman Lear Center at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Director of the Information Commons Project at the New America Foundation. He is also co-founder of Public Knowledge, a public-interest advocacy organization dedicated to defending the commons of the Internet, science and culture.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction 1
I. The Commons, Gift Economies, and Enclosure
1 Reclaiming the Narrative of the Commons 15
2 The Stubborn Vitality of the Gift Economy 27
3 When Markets Enclose the Commons 43
II. Varieties of Market Enclosure
4 Enclosing the Commons of Nature 59
5 The Colonization of Frontier Commons 69
6 The Abuse of the Public's Natural Resources 85
7 Can the Internet Commons Be Saved? 99
8 The Privatization of Public Knowledge 119
9 Enclosing the Academic Commons 135
10 The Commercialization of Culture and Public Spaces 147
11 The Giveaway of Federal Drug Research and Information Resources 163
III. Protecting the Commons
12 The Commons: Another Kind of Property 175
13 Strategies for Protecting the Commons 189
Notes 211
Bibliography 247
About the Author 251
Name Index 253
Subject Index 255
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