Welcome to a public reading list and glossary about the public domain and related themes started by Whose Knowledge?. Western European legal frames have constructed the Public Domain as an entirely intellectual property issue in which the views of Indigenous and minoritised communities have not been considered or systematically excluded.
The way in which a singular Public Domain has been theorised also doesn’t take into account what should or shouldn’t be shared, based on Indigenous and minoritised communities governance systems, methodologies, processes and ways of being. Concurrently to those discussions are thinkings on how to center ethical, respectful, and open sharing of knowledges which is stewarded by communities of origin — not by capitalist or coercive institutions.
Feel free to contact us on info[AT]whoseknowledge[DOT]org to send us your recommendations!
a term/concept in Intellectual Property (IP) law applied to works that are not subject to IP rights, especially copyright. In the GLAM world it’s usually a concept or state-of-being applied to work which is free from restrictions under copyright law either because the copyright has expired or because the work could not be protected by copyright. It is often conceptualised as an alternate status of creative work or knowledge that is not protected by copyright.
According to the concept, should a number of people enjoy unfettered access to a finite, valuable resource such as a pasture, they will tend to over-use it, and may end up destroying its value altogether. Here are two further readings, adding to the debate about this concept:
- What are not the Commons? The myth of the tragedy of the Commons is a critique on how the idea of Tragedy of the Commons puts emphasis “on commons as a resource or property, and not on commoning”.
- Understanding Knowledge as a Commons: From Theory to Practice brings a different perspective to the tragedy of the commons based on collective action rather than assignment of individual property rights. In this sense, it’s “an analytical framework for understanding knowledge as a shared social-ecological system”.
The tragedy of the anticommons is a type of coordination breakdown, in which a commons does not emerge, even when general access to resources or infrastructure would be a social good. It is a mirror-image of the older concept of tragedy of the commons, in which numerous rights holders’ combined use exceeds the capacity of a resource and depletes or destroys it.
The Access to Knowledge (A2K) movement is a loose collection of civil society groups, governments, and individuals converging on the idea that access to knowledge should be linked to fundamental principles of justice, freedom, and economic development.
The World Intellectual Property Organization was created to promote and protect intellectual property (IP) across the world by cooperating with countries as well as international organizations.
The Undercommons is composed of six essays as well as an interview with Stevphen Shukaitis. The text includes criticism of academia and public policy (as a discipline), generally from a left-wing perspective. While densely written, the second and fifth essays generally suggest that universities are part of a societal structure that turns “insurgents into state agents” (the professional–managerial class, in socialist terms) and upholds existing capitalist society; the societal respectability that universities provide should be rejected.
Public Domain and Private Domain are intertwined
- Tiered or Differentiated Approach to Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions: The Evolution of a Concept by Chidi Oguamanam | Journal article
How can communal ways of knowledge production, sharing and dissemination relate with the public domain / private domain binary?
- Libro “Monopolios Artificiales sobre Bienes Intangibles (MABI) by Fundación para la Difusión del Conocimiento y el Desarrolo Sustentable Vía Libre | Book [Spanish]
Domains of knowledge are not to be alienated from knowers and are best situated in the historical context
- Biocolonialism and the commodification of knowledge by Laurie Anne Whitt | Journal article
Who benefits from the public domain and who is harmed?
- The Crying Child On Colonial Archives, Digitization, and Ethics of Care in the Cultural Commons by Temi Odumosu | Journal article
- Open Access Violence: Legacies of White Supremacist Data-Making at the Penn Museum, from the Morton Cranial Collection to the MOVE Remains by Dr. Lyra D. Monteiro | Journal article
Should this content be in the public domain?
- Tamara Lanier’s Fight for the Photographs of Her Enslaved Ancestors at Harvard by Hrag Vartanian | Podcast
- Free Renty: Lanier V. Harvard | Film
- Post-Card Africa by Through the Lens Collective | Artist statement
How can we bring a new perspective to the “communal”?
- Ubuntu and the law in South Africa by Yvonne Makgoro | Journal article
On restitution of cultural heritage and digital rights
- Response to the 2018 Sarr-Savoy Report: Statement on Intellectual Property Rights and Open Access Relevant to the Digitization and Restitution of African Cultural Heritage and Associated Materials by Mathilde Pavis and Andrea Wallace | Public response
- Access For Who? By Open Restitution Africa | zine in English; zine in French
Can knowledge be owned and who should own it?
- Ownership of Knowledge Beyond Intellectual Property edited by Dagmar Schäfer, Annapurna Mamidipudi and Marius Buning | Book
Who commoditises indigenous cultural heritage?
- Mexico accuses Zara and Anthropologie of cultural appropriation by Helen Marriott and agencies | Media
- Marcas de moda que se han apropiado del diseño de la cultura indígena | List | [Spanish]
- Copyright in the Courts: The Return of the Lion | WIPO Case
*Our compañera, Decolonizing Wikimedia coordinator, Mariana Fossatti shared this title [What would it be then, a plural public domain?] with her thoughts on Public Domain discussions.