The Public Domain: Enclosing The Commons Of The Mind

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A BoingBoing post that links to a podcast lecture nicely explains why caring about intellectual property is so important…

The Royal Society PodcastThe Public Domain: Enclosing The Commons Of The Mind
1 |MP3| – Approx. 69 Minutes [LECTURE]
Podcaster: The Royal Society Podcast
Podcast: March 11th 2009
Is the public domain as vital to knowledge, innovation and culture as the realm of material protected by intellectual property rights? James Boyle thinks so and visits the RSA to call for a new movement to preserve it. If we continue to enclose the “commons of the mind”, Boyle argues, we will all be the poorer.

A paperbook, The Picture Gallery Of Canadian History Volume 1 (copyright 1942), that I picked up just today, is a great example of what Boyle talks about. While I listened to Boyle speak I was flipping through the book and imagining all the uses I could put it to. Today I’ve only used them to illustrate this post but when it’s public domain, you can do ANYTHING you want. What would you do with these pictures?

Page 61 from The Picture Gallery of Canadian History Volume 1 (1942)

Page 62 from The Picture Gallery of Canadian History Volume 1 (1942)

Vikings in Ontario. Cool huh? Incidentally, there are plenty of images from The Picture Gallery Of Canadian History Volume 1 on the web already but no-one has done a complete scan of it yet. It is clearly in the public domain in Canada (has been since 2001). Incidentally it won’t be PD in the USA until 2021. I found that fascinating, and utterly retarded. Here’s a 1938 Time magazine article that relates the story that goes with the scans above. If you liked these pics please have a listen to the lecture.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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