About

I am an author, activist, blogger and consultant who spends a lot of time exploring the commons as a new paradigm of economics, politics and culture. I've been on this trail for more than ten years, working with a variety of international and domestic partners. In 2010, I co-founded the Commons Strategies Group, a consulting project that works to promote the commons internationally.

My work on the commons takes many forms -- as an author, conference organizer and frequent international speaker; as the host of an educational film, This Land Is Our Land: The Fight to Reclaim the Commons; as the Croxton Lecturer at Amherst College where I taught “The Rise of the Commons” in 2010; and as an expert witness for the “design commons” in a trademark lawsuit; among other initiatives.

I was Founding Editor of Onthecommons.org and a Fellow of On the Commons from 2004 to 2010. I have written, co-authored or co-edited twelve books.  My first book on the commons was Silent Theft: The Private Plunder of Our Commons Wealth (2002), a far-ranging survey of market enclosures of shared resources, from public lands and the airwaves to creativity and knowledge. Then I extended this analysis in my 2005 book, Brand Name Bullies: The Quest to Own and Control Culture, which documents the vast expansion of copyright and trademark law over the past generation that has enclosed our cultural commons. In 2009, I published Viral Spiral: How the Commoners Built a Digital Republic of Their Own, which describes the rise of free software, free culture, and the movements behind open business models, open science, open educational resources and new modes of Internet-enabled citizenship.

I recently published two books on the commons: The Wealth of the Commons:  A World Beyond Market and State (September 2012, Levellers Press), co-edited with Silke Helfrich; and Green Governance:  Ecological Survival, Human Rights and the Commons (early 2013, Cambridge University Press), co-authored with Professor Burns H. Weston.  

While on the trail of the commons, I have worked with American television writer/producer Norman Lear, since 1984, on a variety of non-television, public affairs projects. I am also Senior Fellow at the Norman Lear Center at the USC Annenberg School for Communication, and co-founder and board member (2001-2011) of Public Knowledge, a Washington policy advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the information commons. In 2012, I won the Bosch Berlin Prize in Public Policy for my commons work from the American Academy in Berlin.  This entailed a residential fellowship and travel in Europe.

I live in Amherst, Massachusetts, a place that knows a lot about commoning and so inspires a passionate hometown loyalty.