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April 18, 2003

talking about the commons at Berkeley

I'm off to California, so this blog may have to pause until April 23. I'm going to Berkeley to give a talk at the Center for the Study of Law and Society (co-sponsored by the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology). My title is "Building the Electronic Commons," and I will be discussing ideas that I have described elsewhere on this Website, as well as some new thoughts. This is my abstract:

Legal theorists like Lawrence Lessig, Yochai Benkler, and James Boyle have defended various versions of a "commons" theory of cyberspace. They argue for reforms that would considerably reduce property rights, thereby returning the Internet to its orginal state of benign anarchy while enhancing innovation and civil liberties online. I argue that this vision is attractive but flawed. It is politically naive, since majorities of voters and organized special interests have incentives to undermine such an online commons. Also, this vision promotes innovation and negative liberty to the exclusion of other values, including democratic ones. However, there is another understanding of the "commons" that is just as venerable and supported by rigorous theory. This is the notion of a commons as a voluntary nonprofit association (or network of such associations), governed by rules. I will discuss politically realistic ways to enhance the role of such associations in cyberspace.

The talk is scheduled for Monday from 12:30-1:45. Details here.

April 18, 2003 11:44 AM | category: Internet and public issues | Comments

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