Cover image for The public domain : enclosing the commons of the mind
The public domain : enclosing the commons of the mind
Boyle, James, 1959-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Haven, Conn. ; London : Yale University Press, [2008]

Physical Description:
xvi, 315 pages ; 25 cm
Argues that all members of the society should understand intellectual property law and that the public domain, where materials can be shared for free and without permission, is essential to innovation, free speech, creativity and culture.
Why intellectual property? -- Thomas Jefferson writes a letter -- The second enclosure movement -- The Internet threat -- The farmer's tale: An allegory -- I got a mashup -- The enclosure of science and technology: Two case studies -- A creative commons -- An evidence-free zone -- An environmentalism for information.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
K1401 .B689 2008 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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In this enlightening book James Boyle describes what he calls the range wars of the information age--today's heated battles over intellectual property. Boyle argues that just as every informed citizen needs to know at least something about the environment or civil rights, every citizen should also understand intellectual property law. Why? Because intellectual property rights mark out the ground rules of the information society, and today's policies are unbalanced, unsupported by evidence, and often detrimental to cultural access, free speech, digital creativity, and scientific innovation.

Boyle identifies as a major problem the widespread failure to understand the importance of the public domain--the realm of material that everyone is free to use and share without permission or fee. The public domain is as vital to innovation and culture as the realm of material protected by intellectual property rights, he asserts, and he calls for a movement akin to the environmental movement to preserve it. With a clear analysis of issues ranging from Jefferson's philosophy of innovation to musical sampling, synthetic biology and Internet file sharing, this timely book brings a positive new perspective to important cultural and legal debates. If we continue to enclose the "commons of the mind," Boyle argues, we will all be the poorer.

Author Notes

James Boyle is William Neal Reynolds Professor of Law, Duke University School of Law. He lives in Chapel Hill, NC.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Boyle (law, Duke Univ. School of Law) has produced a fascinating survey of the issues surrounding the intersection of new technologies and copyright law. His main thesis is that there is much overreaction to the way new technologies threaten established intellectual property protocols, and this overreaction is manifested in attempts to restrict the technologies' communicative potential, especially from a corporate sector more interested in protecting its commercial interests. What sets Boyle's book apart from other treatments of these tensions is a robust theoretical perspective that fuses Thomas Jefferson's insights on the creative process with more contemporary approaches. Boyle has set out to address a complicated subject in a readable fashion, and he has succeeded masterfully. The topic of intellectual property, however, remains challenging even in Boyle's lively, accessible prose, and only the most advanced undergraduates will be able to process his arguments about copyright and technology. Students who are able to digest these complex issues will find this book an invaluable contribution to the literature. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. S. B. Lichtman Shippensburg University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Preface: Comprised of at Least Jelly?p. xi
1 Why Intellectual Property?p. 1
2 Thomas Jefferson Writes a Letterp. 17
3 The Second Enclosure Movementp. 42
4 The Internet Threatp. 54
5 The Farmers' Tale: An Allegoryp. 83
6 I Got a Mashupp. 122
7 The Enclosure of Science and Technology: Two Case Studiesp. 160
8 A Creative Commonsp. 179
9 An Evidence-Free Zonep. 205
10 An Environmentalism for Informationp. 230
Notes and Further Readingsp. 249
Indexp. 297