Free Knowledge
Confronting the Commodification of Human Discovery
ISBN: 978-0-88977-365-3
Year: 2015
Pages: 304
Binding: Paperback

Download a free PDF of this book

Copyright: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). It may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes,  provided that the original author is credited.


"An emerging area of concern that has both scholarly and activist dimensions.... A book on the cutting-edge of current debates." - Dr. Ian Angus, Simon Fraser University, author of Emergent Publics and Love the Questions: University Education and Enlightenment

Alarms are being sounded around the globe over the increasing commercialization of public knowledge for private profit. Whether you are a farmer, a university student, a medical patient, or a library user, these developments impact your daily life. 

Knowledge privatization holds growing sway over the choice of the foods you eat, the medicine you take, the software you use, the music you hear, and even the flowers you plant in your own backyard. This is the result of a world where plant seeds have become subject to patents, medical research is overseen by pharmaceutical giants, universities are beholden to corporate funders, and Indigenous knowledge is expropriated. 

The good news is that people are fighting back, working to create spaces where humanity's knowledge can be reclaimed and shared for the public good. Composed of fifteen essays from seventeen writers, ranging from academics to farmers to Indigenous knowledge keepers, Free Knowledge is a book on the front lines in the shared project of creating and protecting our Knowledge Commons.


Prologue: Free Knowledge, Seeds, and Other Beings

Brewster Kneen 




Patricia W. Elliott and Daryl H. Hepting 


Part 1  Knowledge for Profit: The Commodification

of Education and Research


Chapter 1  Higher Education or Education for Hire?

Corporatization and the Threat to Democratic Thinking

Joel Westheimer 


Chapter 2  Privatized Knowledge and the Pharmaceutical Industry


Sally Mahood


Chapter 3  Pseudo-Evidence-Based Medicine: When Biomedical Research

Becomes an Adjunct of Pharmaceutical Marketing


Arthur Schafer


Chapter 4  The Privatization of Knowledge in Canada’s

Universities and What We Should Do About It


Claire Polster


Part 2  Knowledge for People:

Examples of Alternative Praxis


Chapter 5  The Canadian Co-operative Movement and the

Promise of Knowledge Democracy

Mitch Diamantopoulos


Chapter 6 Liberating Our Public Airwaves: Sounding Off!


Marian van der Zon 

17 1 ix




Chapter 7  Action Research as Academic Reform: The Challenges and Opportunities of Shared Knowledge

Patricia W. Elliott


Part 3  Knowledge Sovereignty:

Indigenous Resistances and Resiliencies


Chapter 8  Indigenous Knowledge: A K’iche-Mayan Perspective

Leonzo Barreno


Chapter 9  Gnaritas Nullius (No One's Knowledge):

The Essence of Traditional Knowledge and Its

Colonization through Western Legal Regimes


Gregory Younging


Chapter 10  Renegotiated Relationships and New Understandings: Indigenous Protocols


Jane Anderson and Gregory Younging


Part 4  Reframing the Future:

Emerging Ideas and Understandings


Chapter 11 The Economics of Information in a Post-Carbon Economy

Joshua Farley and Ida Kubiszewski


Chapter 12  Studying Abundance: Building a New Economics

of Scarcity, Sufficiency, and Abundance


Roberto Verzola


Chapter 13  Seeds, Soil, and Good Governance: A Message to Government


Doug Bone


Chapter 14  Open Access to Scholarly Knowledge: The New Commons


Heather Morrison










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149 137 115




Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
          Free knowledge : confronting the commodification of human 
discovery / edited by Patricia W. Elliott & Daryl H. Hepting.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Issued in print and electronic formats.
ISBN 978-0-88977-365-3 (paperback).--ISBN 978-0-88977-366-0 (pdf)
          1. Research--Economic aspects--Canada.  2. Science--Economic 
aspects--Canada.  3. Commodification--Canada.  4. Education, Higher--
Economic aspects--Canada.  5. Privatization in education--Canada. 
6. Knowledge, Sociology of.  I. Elliott, Patricia, 1960-, author, editor  
II. Hepting, Daryl H. (Daryl Hugh), 1965-, editor
Q180.55.E25F74 2015     338.4'75072      C2015-901658-4     C2015-901659-2

Daryl H. Hepting

Daryl H. Hepting is an associate professor of Computer Science and an associate member of the Film Department at the University of Regina. He is also the coordinator of the Farming and Local Food Working Group in Saskatchewan.

Patricia W. Elliott

Patricia W. Elliott is an assistant professor of the School of Journalism at the University of Regina. Her background includes alternative media practice and community-based research.
"Provides a refreshing survey of the many realms in which corporations are enclosing shared knowledge -- and a sampling of commons that are democratizing the production and control of knowledge."
David Bollier,
"Compelling, timely and a seminal anthology of outstanding and deftly presented scholarship....very highly recommended."
Michael Dunford, Midwest Book Review
The Creative Industries Transition Fund is made possible through funding that was provided to the Saskatchewan Arts Board by the Government of Saskatchewan through the Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport.