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

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Overview

'They hang the man and flog the woman That steal the goose from off the common, But let the greater villain loose That steals the common from the goose.' - Traditional nursery rhyme Until a 1998 federal court decision, a Minnesota publisher claimed to own every federal court decision, including Roe v. Wade and Brown v. Board of Education. A Texas company was recently allowed to calm a patent on basmati rice, a kind of rice grown in India for hundreds of years. The Mining Act of 1872 is still in effect, allowing companies to buy land from the government at USD5 and acre if they pan to mine it. These are resources that belong to al of use, yet they are being given away to companies with anything but the common interest in mind. Where was the public outcry, or the government intervention, when these were happening? The answers are alarming. Private corporations are consuming the resources that the American people collectively own at a staggering rate, and the government is not protecting the commons on our behalf. In Silent Theft , David Bollier exposes the audacious attempts of companies to appropriate medical breakthroughs, public airwaves, outer space, state research, and even the DNA of plants and animals. Amazingly, these abuses often go unnoticed, Bollier argues, because we have lost our ability to see the commons. Publicly funded technological innovations create common wealth (cell phone airwaves, internet addresses, gene sequences) at blinding speed, while an economic atmosphere of deregulation and privatization ensures they will be quickly bought and sold. In an age of market triumphalism, does the notion of the commons have any practical meaning? Crisp and revelatory, Silent Theft is a bold attempt to develop a new language of the commons, a new ethos of commonwealth in the face of a market ethic that knows no bounds.

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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: 9780415944823
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 2/1/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (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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