Contested Commons Trespassing Publics, the conference on inequalities, conflicts and intellectual property, was organised by The Sarai Programme, along with Alternative Law Forum and Public Service Broadcasting Trust, on January 6-8, 2005, at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.
The past three years have seen conflicts over the regulation of information, knowledge and cultural materials increase in intensity and scope. These conflicts have widened to include new geographical spaces, particularly China, India, South Africa and Brazil. Moreover, a range of new problems, including the expansion of intellectual property protection to almost all spheres of our social life, has intensified the problem. It is important to recognize that the nature of the conflict gets configured differently as we move from the United States and Europe to social landscapes marked by sharp inequalities in Asia, Latin America and Africa. In the light of these transformations, we would like to revisit earlier discussions on creativity, innovation, authorship, and the making of property. Is it possible to draw comparative registers between earlier histories of violence and dispossession that accompanied the making of property, and the current turbulence around intellectual property on world scale? At this conference, we would like to push comparative discussions between earlier and contemporary moments of dispossession and criminalisation, between the open source movement and discussions on traditional knowledge and biodiversity. We would also like to build a dialogue between different moments in media history – print, film, music and the new media – so as to prise open questions around culture, circulation and property.