Law for the Commons

Frontiers of Commoning

As enclosures have taken control of common assets, they have spurred new interest in using law to protect commons. This topic has a rich history going back to the Magna Carta and its companion document, the Charter of the Forest, which legally recognized commoners’ customary usage of forests, farmland, pastures and rivers. In this tradition, commoners today are increasingly devising new legal mechanisms to protect their access and use of shared wealth — from software code and urban spaces to ethnobotanical knowledge and creative works.

David Bollier has attempted to stimulate new research and dialogue about this emerging body of socio-legal-political innovation by releasing a research memorandum, “Reinventing Law for the Commons,” in September 2015. The memo itemizes five dozen notable areas in which new forms of commons-based law are emerging, and explores the paradox of trying to build a new social order of commoning through creative hacks of laws based on the sanctity of individual rights, private property, markets and state authority.

Find out more: