Defending the Cultural Commons

In The Gift (1983), Lewis Hyde, the Richard L. Thomas Professor of Creative Writing, transformed contemporary thinking about the "value" of creative work in a commercial culture. Hyde's newest book, Common as Air: Revolution, Art, and Ownership (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), promises to pave the way for enlightened discussion about an equally confounding modern topic: copyright and "intellectual property." From Hollywood's war on pirated materials to the implications of the Human Genome Project, Hyde addresses whether ideas are private or belong to the commonwealth. Look for a more detailed discussion of the book in the next Bulletin.