“Tragedy of the Commons”: Intellectual Property Rights in the Information Age
The Threat to Civil Liberties and Innovation Posed by Expanding Copyrights

By Robin D. Gross, Esq.
IP Justice Executive Director
Published by MIT Press, 2006

0.  Introduction
As we enter an information age, the rules governing the use and dissemination of information become increasingly important. Clashes between fundamental freedom of expression guarantees and intellectual property rights are upsetting the traditional balance struck between creators and the public. The ease of copying and re-distribution of digital information concerns industries dependent on traditional publishing business models. These companies have successfully petitioned for changes in the copyright laws at the national and international levels. But these recent increases in copyright holders’ rights have come at the expense of the public’s rights to use media and communicate freely. This chapter discusses the threat to traditional civil liberties posed by expanding copyrights and recommends some principles for creating communication rights in a digital world.

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