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Public domain and the commons revisited

"How shall we govern the commons?": this was the main question addressed by David Bollier in his recent luncheon talk at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society - member of the COMMUNIA Network. Bollier and the Center faculty discussed his new book, Viral Spiral: How the Commoners Built a Digital Republic of Their Own, where he traces the origins of free software, Creative Commons licenses and the online “sharing economy”. They also examined how commoners assert differing notions of freedom, community boundaries, social norms and reliance on law to protect the integrity of their shared resources.

Blogging live from the event, Ethan Zuckerman reports that according to Bollier, "until roughly 2000 the public domain was the closest we had to the commons. Copyright traditionalists saw it as a junkyard, a wasteland of government documents and old sheet music." While David Weinberger, in another live post highlights the fact that "We have to find respectful relationships among private businesses and commons. Maybe we need new revenue models." In other words, concludes Bollier, "we need a new taxonomy of digital commons, in order to find ways to protect the integrity of the shared resource and the community itself."

Listen or watch the entire talk here (71 min). [14may09]

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