commons strategies

Liberate the Music!

Ludwig von Beethoven died 183 years ago. So why is his music still locked behind copyrights and not available for free to everyone? Because even if the music itself is in the public domain, the recordings of his music, or perhaps the sheet music (with special arrangements or notation) can be copyrighted by the orchestras that perform the music or the composers who notate it.

Why Not State Banks?

Despite the huge infusions of bailout capital by the federal government, many banks continue their reluctance to lend, even to creditworthy businesses and individuals. If nothing else, the banking crisis of the past 18 months has shown that when the chips are down, it’s the government and taxpayers who do the bidding of the banks, not vice-versa. The common wealth is commandeered to shore up private wealth because "the free market" is seen as the only realistic vehicle for advancing the common good.

Can That Data Be Shared?

One of the big problems in science is the proliferation of databases whose content is technically incompatible or legally proprietary in some fashion — and therefore unable to be used by others in their research. For years a number of smart, committed scientists, law scholars and techies have grappled with the problem of making data accessible and re-useable. Now they have released a blueprint for doing so.

British Beer-Drinkers Learn to "Buy Local"

The venerable English pub has long been a place where everyone from the businessman to the housewife to the student, factory worker and vicar could meet as equals — a social commons that reflected the neighborhood and its idiosyncrasies. Over the past twenty years or more, however, large corporations have consolidated the ownership of British pubs so that some companies own thousands of them. The trend has accelerated in recent years, forcing hundreds of independent local pubs to close.

A New Multilateralism of the Global Commons

If commons are to take root and grow in our society, at the local, national and international levels, what might that mean for the future of the nation-state, multilateral institutions and public policy? These are big, complex questions that need to be asked. We need to re-imagine governance in profound ways, not just in terms of local or digital commons, but also with respect to new roles for nation-states and new types of multilateral governance systems.