on Monday May 06, @07:51PM
Sarai New Media Initiative in Delhi is organizing a new list that focuses on legal issues related to the public domain. The Commonsfirstname.lastname@example.org mailing list seeks to build a community interested in that real and imagined space called the Public Domain or the Commons.
"The public domain as a space of cultural practice has been a contested space, and it is only fairly recently that a serious sociological and/or political analysis is being attempted. Some of our concerns lie in examining what are the various practices that go into the formation of this public domain, and how they interact with each other over the contested meaning associated with the idea of a public domain."
More about this list.
General information about the mailing list is at:
Welcome to the Commonsemail@example.com mailing list! This list seeks to build a community interested in that real and imagined space called the Public Domain or the Commons.
The public domain as a space of cultural practice has been a contested space, and it is only fairly recently that a serious sociological and/or political analysis is being attempted. Some of our concerns lie in examining what are the various practices that go into the formation of this public domain, and how they interact with each other over the contested meaning associated with the idea of a public domain.
It is our belief that law is one such constitutive discourse of the
public domain. By a constitutive discourse we mean that the law does
not merely describe the public domain, but through such description
also constitutes what the public domain is and should be. The very
idea of law and legal systems are predicated on the imaginary notion
of the Idea(l) of the public itself. Is there then a discrepancy
between the law's idea of the public and the political/ cultural
practices of this public?
What we would like to do is collectively chart out an examination of
the nature of this public domain by critically examining the role that intellectual property rights play in constituting the public domain. It is clear that rights bestowed by intellectual property regimes (copyright, trademark, publicity rights, design, patents, and
associated merchandising rights in particular) play a crucial role in
the creation of contemporary cultures and in the social life of
There has been no account in India of the cultural nature of the
actual forms that intellectual property laws protect, the social and
historical contexts in which cultural proprietorship is (or is not)
assumed, and the manner in which these rights are (or are not)
exercised and enforced to intervene in everyday struggles over
meaning. We hope that a study of the political consequences of
intellectual property rights in a democratic society will provide for
a more specific and material account of the power/ knowledge
relationship that underlies the idea of intellectual property law.
Some of the issues that we would then like to examine include the following.
1. IPR, the public domain and Freedom of speech and expression -
Traditionally the right to freedom of speech and expression has been
exercised and regulated within the constitutional narrative of the
nation state. There are increasing instances in the context of
globalization of the use of IPR to restrict this freedom through a
control over the signs of popular culture. What are the ways in which
this public domain is shrinking as a result of the operation of the
IPR regime? What are the counter hegemonic instances of the use of
protected signs and how does the legal category of fair use and parody defenses negotiate with such usage?
2. IPR and traditional knowledge resources - If there is a shirking of the idea of the public domain or the commons in the modern urban
economy, there seems to be a dual move which is of some interest vis a vis cultures and economies outside the sphere of modernity. The
philosophical basis of IPR finds its familial lineage within the
larger account of a particular project of modernity. How does such a
modern account of IPR interact with "non-modern" accounts of
knowledge and property, especially in the context of IPR and
traditional knowledge. In the context of globalization there are
serious threats posed to the idea of traditional commons by the
onslaught of global interest in capturing forms of traditional
knowledge and converting it into proprietary information. What are the politics of such conversions of common knowledge into individual
information and what legal strategies may we adopt to protect this
3. Challenges to traditional notions of IPR posed by new technologies
- The internet and movements like the open source movement have
greatly challenged traditional notions of property, authorship,
originality and ownership. What do these challenges mean for our
understanding of IPR, and what alternate accounts of IPR are required
to be able to argue for a larger notion of the public domain or
commons in the context of IPR.
4. Expanding the realm of the Public/Commons - Deriving our
inspiration from the open source movement in software, we are
interested in studying the implications of an expansion of the idea of the commons or the public domain by similar social movements in the form of open technologies, open art and open law. What, for instance, are the preconditions to retaining the openness of the concept of open source?
We see ourselves as legal practitioners and researchers who see law as a culturally mediated discourse in which various processes and systems of domination and resistance coexist. We also recognize that any successful attempt at exploring the nexus of law and culture will have to have the ability to transcend and transform the initial categories viz. law and culture. We are therefore using this space in a hope that we will be able to muster up fellow travelers from different fields to enrich this project.
List Administrators: Lawrence Liang Sudhir Krishnaswamy Jeebesh Bagchi (Sarai)
To post to this list, send your email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
General information about the mailing list is at:
Sarai New Media Initiative
Wired interview Dietz-Marketou