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Information Feudalism: Who Owns the Knowledge Economy?
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....
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 activities—from swinging in a swing to traditional farming techniques—are 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 Africa—in 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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