IP in a World Without Scarcity | T H E E A R T H C H A R T E R

by apollosolaris


Economics is based on scarcity. Things are valuable because they are scarce. The more abundant they become, they cheaper they become. But a series of technological changes is underway that promises to end scarcity as we know it for a wide variety of goods. The Internet is the most obvious example, because the change there is furthest along. The Internet has reduced the cost of production and distribution of informational content effectively to zero. In many cases it has also dramatically reduced the cost of producing that content. And it has changed the way in which information is distributed, separating the creators of content from
the distributors. On the Internet today, a variety of intermediaries transmit information for free or at a very low cost. Those intermediaries are agnostic about (and quite often ignorant of) the content they are distributing. So the Internet has not only slashed the cost of creation, production and distribution; it has also disaggregated creation and distribution. I can create without distributing, secure in the knowledge that my works will be disseminated by others who distribute without creating.More recently, new technologies promise to do for a variety of physical goods and even
services what the Internet has already done for information. 3D printers can manufacture
physical goods based on any digital design. While home printers are so far quite limited in size
and materials, there are tens of thousands of designs available on the Internet already, and
© 2014 Mark A. Lemley. 2
William H. Neukom Professor, Stanford Law School; partner, Durie Tangri LLP. Thanks to Julie Cohen,
Deven Desai, Rose Hagan, Mark McKenna, Lisa Larrimore Ouellette, and participants at a workshop at
Hastings Law School for comments on an earlier draft. READ MORE

We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world
becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations.

Earth, Our Home

Humanity is part of a vast evolving universe. Earth, our home, is alive with a unique community of life. The
forces of nature make existence a demanding and uncertain adventure, but Earth has provided the conditions
essential to life’s evolution. The resilience of the community of life and the well-being of humanity depend
upon preserving a healthy biosphere with all its ecological systems, a rich variety of plants and animals, fertile
soils, pure waters, and clean air. The global environment with its finite resources is a common concern of all
peoples. The protection of Earth’s vitality, diversity, and beauty is a sacred trust.

The Global Situation

The dominant patterns of production and consumption are causing environmental devastation, the depletion
of resources, and a massive extinction of species. Communities are being undermined. The benefits of
development are not shared equitably and the gap between rich and poor is widening. Injustice, poverty,
ignorance, and violent conflict are widespread and the cause of great suffering. An unprecedented rise in
human population has overburdened ecological and social systems. The foundations of global security are
threatened. These trends are perilous—but not inevitable. READ MORE