• The Debauched Commons: A Dark Parable

    David S. Jones, Gavin Keeney (see profile)
    Art + Law
    Capitalism, Biopolitics, Intellectual property, Economics
    Item Type:
    australia, first nations, commons, heritage
    Permanent URL:
    ‘The Debauched Commons: A Dark Parable’ summarizes issues regarding intellectual property rights and immaterial culture through a nuanced reading of how First Nations Peoples worldwide have been forced by forms of neoliberal-capitalist exploitation of the knowledge commons to ring-fence and/or commodify their lived traditions, in many cases dating back 100,000 years and clearly predating any and all Western (First World) concepts of ownership. The intention of the structuralist-inspired reading of this enforced defensive position is to emphasize and clarify issues concerning prior art and moral rights, two of the most ambiguous and gamed elements of copyright and patent law. Drawing upon the international context of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007) and the Convention for Safeguarding Intangible Heritage (2003), this essay will focus, in part, on the travails of Aboriginals in Australia as representative of First Peoples worldwide and their long-exploited and long-expropriated traditions, inclusive of land, but foremost lived knowledge, but also their often compromised position vis-à-vis various Australian state and Commonwealth legislation concerning recognition of their copyright, moral rights, and intellectual property rights. In this complex dance between tradition, heritage, and law, the so-called public domain often also becomes a de facto warehouse for the eventual conversion of intangible rights to collectively held and stored cultural property, which is then leveraged and/or converted to cultural capital by both public institutions and private companies. The primary premise of the analytic to be applied is that commodification of knowledge is more or less co-equal to the digitization of culture and the regimes of expropriation and/or outright theft associated with platform cultures.
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    1 year ago


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