The Incredible Shrinking Public Domain

A session at ORGCON

Each generation likes to think itself unique. Each generation flatters itself. Our generation is unique, but we should not be flattered. On the positive side, we are the generation that has created and deployed the greatest tools for speech and communication the world has ever seen. The last 25 years has done much to undermine the saying "Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one." About a billion of us do now, at least potentially. But we are unique in another way. Every other generation could look to their collective culture and confidently assert that, within their lifetime, much of it -- perhaps the majority of it -- would be legally available to copy, distribute and build upon. This generation cannot say that. We have chosen to lock up the vast majority of the last century's culture, to make it inaccessible and in most cases, done so with no benefit to anyone. No cultural work created during your lifetime will, without conscious action by its creator, be freely available for you to build upon or modify. In his keynote address James Boyle will address this paradox: why has legal freedom decreased at the moment that technological openness has flourished? And what can we do to save the incredible shrinking public domain?

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James Boyle

I teach law at Duke & write for the FT & Huff Po. http://thepublicdomain.org/bio bio from Twitter

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England England, London

24th July 2010

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