In 2008, nations worldwide plundered their common wealth in an effort to bail out the prevailing economic order. It is a stark reminder that there could be other ways of doing things. It is an opportune time to reexamine the concept of the commons, perhaps as a parallel, if not an alternative to private property oriented social, political and legal systems.

The modern notion of the commons is fractured. It ranges from movements concerned with the private ownership of life, water, access to land and sea, to organic farming versus industrial agriculture, to economic and political localism to the legal enclosures of intellectual creativity. The various commons movements seem superficially to have little in common, but beneath the surface there are multiple and recurring points of intersection.

This seminar stitches together many different threads of the commons: the historical perspective in a contemporary context, creative and artistic commons, software and “intellectual property” including patenting of life forms, personal and political commons, natural resources, media and telecommunications commons. The seminar beckons to lawyers, professors and judges whose legal training is framed by property rights and human rights, computer geeks and “techies,” humanists, political activists, food activists, and creative communities of various stripes.

Click to download full Law of the Commons brochure (PDF)

Steve Reisler's article "Teaching the Commons" in the Sping 2009 issue of Guild Practitioner. (Large PDF)

Law of the Commons Conference
Seattle University School of Law
1191 E. Columbia
Sullivan Hall, Corner of 12th at E. Columbia
Seattle, WA 98122-1090

Faculty to Present:
For full presenter bios, please click here (PDF).

Beth Elpern Burrows
The Edmonds Institute

Eben Moglen
Columbia University School of Law & Chairman, Software Freedom Law Center

Louis Wolcher
University of Washington School of Law

Mary Wong
Franklin Pierce School of Law

Brian Rowe
Founder Freedom For IP

Nives Dolsak
University of Washington, Bothell

William Rodgers
University of Washington

Mark Leier
Simon Fraser University, Vancouver BC

Laura Nader
University of California, Berkeley

Cindy Cohn
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Maggie Chon
Seattle University School of Law

Peter Linebaugh
University of Toledo

Robert Siegal, Seattle