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News Posted on June 8, 2010

Washington Post Blog Discusses Paper by Professors Chander, Sunder

A paper by Professors Anupam Chander and Madhavi Sunder is discussed in a recent entry of the Ezra Klein blog published on the website of the Washington Post.  The blog entry, "‘DIY U' and the ‘Romance of the Public Domain,'" takes its title in part from Professors Chander and Sunder's "The Romance of the Public Domain," which is referred to as a "fantastic paper."

Klein's entry discusses various viewpoints regarding public and private ownership, touching on the debate over whether public ownership leads to over- or underuse of a given property.  Klein notes the some scholars-particularly those interested in promoting free access to information online-have argued that this issue is moot with regard to online information, which cannot be overused though it theoretically can be accessed by everyone.  The blog quotes Professor Chander and Sunder in their assertion that this viewpoint overlooks the fact that online resources are not equally accessible to all.

"The public domain is now the cause célèbre among progressive intellectual property and cyber-law scholars, who extol the public domain as necessary for sustaining innovation," write Professors Chander and Sunder.  "But scholars obscure the distributional consequences of the commons. They presume a landscape where every person can reap the riches found in the commons. This is the romance of the commons-the belief that because a resource is open to all by force of law, it will indeed be equally exploited by all. But in practice, differing circumstances-including knowledge, wealth, power, access and ability-render some better able than others to exploit a commons."

Anupam Chander and Madhavi Sunder are professors of Law at UC Davis School of Law.  Professor Chander's interests include the law of globalization and digitization, international law, cyber law, and corporate law.  Professor Sunder's interests include intellectual property, law and culture studies, women's rights, intellectual property in cyberspace, and international intellectual property. 

Ezra Klein blog