Multilingual Educational Resources about Intellectual Property and the Public Domain




Unless otherwise specified, you are free to copy, distribute, display, remix, and further translate these works, with attribution, under the Creative Commons Attribution (by) license. We encourage readers to post, download, and share these translations. You can also send us comments about them. Please note that some terms of art - such as the "public domain" and "commons" - may have multiple meanings and do not translate naturally from one language to another. Such terms have either been left in the original English or translated to their closest equivalent.

Longer articles about international intellectual property and the public domain:

A Manifesto on WIPO and the Future of Intellectual Property

The role of the World Intellectual Property Organization ("WIPO") in shaping international IP policy; seven Guiding Principles for rational and humane intellectual property policy

The Second Enclosure Movement and the Construction of the Public Domain

Enclosing the intellectual commons and the theory and history of the public domain

The Public Domain Manifesto

This manifesto, created by COMMUNIA (the European thematic network on the digital public domain), defines the public domain and outlines the necessary principles and guidelines for a healthy public domain at the beginning of the 21st century

Short analyses of issues in intellectual property policy:

1) Evidence-based IP policy Looking at evidence about the effects of IP rights, and their relative costs and benefits, before making IP policy

A Natural Experiment - Empirical evidence about the effects of sui generis database rights
Two database cheers for the EU - The European Commission's empirical review of the Database Directive
Public information wants to be free - Evidence about the effects of rights over government-generated data such as maps, traffic, and weather information

2) Systemic biases about IP Recognizing systemic biases that influence policymaking

Deconstructing stupidity - Why is IP policy so consistently one-sided?
Web's never-to-be-repeated revolution - Would we kill the web today?
A closed mind about an open world - Cognitive biases about property

3) The impacts of IP in different areas These articles are about specific controversies and debates. In many cases, the precise issue may have been resolved, but the general principles and arguments may be of continuing interest.

Geeks in software patent frenzy - New software patent rights
More rights are wrong for webcasters - A new webcasting right
Breaking the deal - Extending the copyright term for sound recordings

The book "Free Culture" by Lawrence Lessig:

Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity (pdf)

Professor Lessig's landmark manifesto about the genuine closing of the American mind

We would like to thank our talented translators Ana Santos and Haochen Sun, our generous reviewers Leonardo Cervera-Navas, Professor Jonathan Ocko, Manon Ress, and Coralie de Tomassi, and our web guru Nick Castillo for all of their work on this website.

CC License


The goal of the intellectual property ("IP") system is to promote the creation and distribution of knowledge and culture. In order to achieve this goal, the system must strike a delicate balance between the incentives provided by exclusive rights and the freedoms provided by the "public domain."

In recent years, a global trend toward stronger and more harmonized IP rights has raised concerns that the IP system is no longer achieving its goal, and may actually hinder the creation and widespread distribution of cultural and educational materials, particularly in the developing world. But how do we know whether the IP system is working? How do we evaluate new proposals and determine the best way forward?

This website seeks to provide citizens around the world with some of the information they need to address these questions. As a starting point, it provides translations of basic articles about IP in Chinese, English, French, Portuguese and Spanish. The "seeds" for the collection are a set of articles and books by James Boyle and Lawrence Lessig. However, we hope to expand the collection over time and welcome your suggestions. Finally, of course, you should feel free to make these translations part of your own collection of resources.

The hope is that these resources will be part of an information sharing network that strengthens the voice of the public in debates about IP policy and contributes to the development of a more balanced and just global IP regime. This initiative is part of a larger public education project, funded by the Ford Foundation, that aims to build greater awareness and understanding about IP, and about the role and value of the public domain.