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The public domain comprises the body of community resources, including knowledge and innovation, in which no person or other legal entity can establish or maintain proprietary interests. This includes creative works such as writing, art, music, software, and other inventions. The public domain also includes the physical domain, including land, oceans, and the atmosphere.

The Environmental Commons

One important element of the public domain is the idea of the “commons.” In particular, there is an ideological tension between advocates of the public domain, who support the promulgation of collective rights, public goods, and other shared resources, and those who advocate the establishment and ownership of private property. This tension often arises out of concerns about the “tragedy of the commons,” as posited by Garret Hardin and ...

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