Saturday, November 7, 2020

Review of Common as Air: Revolution, Art, and Ownership by Lewis Hyde

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Elaborate Description

Hyde makes the case that copyrights for intellectual pursuits, for cultural pursuits, are now too exclusive. Excessively exclusionary intellectual property, such as essays, music, and genetics, make many afraid to use property in their own work, creating an inability to improve on them for the betterment of society. Non-corporate owners, individual copyrights now get lifetime plus 70 years, meaning that the dissemination of information and knowledge is highly restricted. Many cultural icons such as Martin Luther King’s essay speech, have so many restrictions and payments which prevent the speech from being used by the public.

Cultural commons are important for a self-governing nation of citizens, citizens who actively make their government. A constantly changing culture prevents citizens from being just the audience to government, while highly exclusionary intellectual property rights limit the ability of citizens to shape the culture. Democracy requires an informed public while many debates cannot be held without the dissemination of knowledge.

An eloquently written book which is not against property rights, for Hyde takes great measures to show that property rights for ideas are needed in society. But, current property rights prevent the very reason property rights were formed, for the benefit of society. One way to correct the current stranglehold on intellectual pursuits is limit the term of property right for the statistical commercial value. Many projects commercial value is lost within a certain time frame. Using that time frame as a base would provide the author and innovator with all the rewards of their work and enable the public to benefit afterwards.

Book Details

Edition ISBN:  9780374532796
Pages to read:   274
Publication:     2011
1st Edition:      2010
Format:            Paperback

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          5
Overall           5