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Cyborg Democracy's Dale Carrico is WorldChanging

James Boyle is a Professor of Law and co-founder of the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke Law School. His Home Page is an amazing resource, a sprawling mass of the best recent writing on net law and policy. There are pieces from Lawrence Lessig, Pamela Samuelson, and all of the good, usual suspects.

But the writings I would recommend most eagerly here are Boyle's own. His writing has a grace you don't often stumble into in legal discourse, reflecting an amazing range of reading in disciplines beyond his own, flashes of quirk and wit. And he provides unusually clarifying frames and metaphors through which to think of problems in fresh ways.

Two recent works of his complement one another and deserve long looks: "Enclosing the Genome" and "The Second Enclosure Movement and the Construction of the Public Domain."

He writes in the Genome piece:

The first enclosure movement involved the conversion of the 'commons' of arable land into private property. The second enclosure movement involves an expansion of property rights over the intangible commons, the world of the public domain, the world of expression and invention... As with the first enclosure movement, we have available to us a cooler language of economic incentives that promises a calmer and smoother discussion about the encouragement of progress... And as with the first enclosure movement, to retreat from the full range of issues into these calmer smoother waters would be a mistake... I [use] the gene patenting debate as an example to make the larger point that intellectual property scholars are mistaken to write off most non-utilitarian criticisms as outside their purview... [I]f our goal is truly to help eliminate human suffering, then we should spend more time thinking about alternative and supplementary ways of encouraging pharmaceutical innovation beyond the drug patent system.

Also available on the website is Boyle's "A Politics of Intellectual Property: Environmentalism for the Net?" and a personal favorite, "Foucault in Cyberspace", which makes the indispensable suggestion that digital libertarians need to read up on their Michel Foucault asap. His warnings in that piece about privatized panopticons will probably interest devotees of participatory panopticons as well.

Dale Carrico is a PhD. Candidate in the Department at Rhetoric at Berkeley, and promises he is really finishing his dissertation now. He blogs at Amor Mundi and Cyborg Democracy.

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The Second Enclosure -- great meme. Thanks, Dale!

Posted by: Alex Steffen on 3 Oct 04



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