Information Feudalism: Who Owns the Knowledge Economy?

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New Press, 2003 - Law - 253 pages
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How multinational corporations are patenting life itself. Uncovering the story of how a small coterie of multinational corporations came to write the charter for a new global information order, Information Feudalism demonstrates why the world of intellectual property rights, patent regimes, and anti-trust laws is an urgent concern for ordinary citizens. As an ever wider range of everyday activitiesfrom swinging in a swing to traditional farming techniquesare identified and commodified as intellectual property, struggles over the control of information are destined to become crucial battlegrounds in the twenty-first century. A telling example is the five-year courtroom battle fought by a coalition of activists to bring cheap versions of desperately needed AIDS drugs to South Africain which time one million people died of AIDS in that country alone. Information Feudalism traces the rise of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), the little-known charter that now governs intellectual property disputes across the globe, through inside accounts of the backroom deals that gave birth to it. Along the way, the book provides a mini-history of piracy, detailed accounts of the political involvement of multinationals like Pfizer, and a thorough set of proposals to establish democratic property rights.

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About the author (2003)

Peter Drahos is a professor at the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University. He is the author of A Philosophy of Intellectual Property and, with John Braithwaite, Global Business Regulation.

John Braithwaite is a business regulatory scholar who is an Australian Research Council Federation Fellow at the Australian National University. His major works include Corporate Crime in the Pharmaceutical Industry and Corporations, Crime and Accountability.

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