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Silent Theft: The Private Plunder of Our Common Wealthby David Bollier
Synopses & Reviews
Until a 1998 federal court decision, a Minnesota publisher claimed a monopoly on access to all federal court decisions. A Texas company recently filed a patent on a kind of rice grown in India for centuries. Other businesses now claim ownership of mathematical algorithms embedded in software, valuable public lands acquired for five dollars an acre, and icebergs that they plan to transport and sell as fresh water.
In Silent Theft, David Bollier argues that a great untold story of our time is the staggering privatization and abuse of our common wealth. Corporations are engaged in a relentless plunder of dozens of resources that we collectively own?publicly funded medical breakthroughs, software innovation, the airwaves, the public domain of creative works, and even the DNA of plants, animals and humans. Too often, however, our government turns a blind eye?or sometimes helps give away our assets.
Amazingly, the silent theft of our shared wealth has gone largely unnoticed because we have lost our ability to see the commons. Spooling out one outrageous story after another, Bollier skillfully weaves together debates about the Internet, the environment, biotechnology, and the communications revolution. His fresh and compelling critique illuminates a rarely explored landscape in our political and cultural life.
Crisp and revelatory, Silent Theft is a bold attempt to develop a new language of the commons and, in the face of a market order that knows no bounds, to outline an ambitious new project for reclaiming our common wealth.
"The subject of Silent Theft is urgently important, and Bollier's handling of this complex set of issues is both deft and straightforward. The more people who read Silent Theft, the better our world." Norman Lear
"This beautifully written, carefully argued book shows how little we learned from the past. Free and open resources have always been central to creativity and growth; Bollier shows how in a range of important contexts, free and open resources are being enclosed, to the benefit of the corporate class, and burden of Americans generally." Lawrence Lessig, Stanford Law School, and author of The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World
"A calm reasonable primer on a topic of enormous importance. Buy a copy, and when you've read it, donate it to that wonderful commons called your local library." Bill McKibben author, The End of Nature
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