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Ideas, Artifacts, and Facilities: Information as a Common-Pool Resource

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Hess, Charlotte; Ostrom, Elinor
Journal: Law and Contemporary Problems
Volume: 66
Page(s):
Date: 2003
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/3088
Sector: New Commons
Information & Knowledge
Region: North America
Subject(s): Workshop
institutional analysis--IAD framework
collective action
Internet
copyright
patents
intellectual property rights
communication
commodification
Abstract: "The goal of this paper is to summarize the lessons learned from a large body of international, interdisciplinary research on common-pool resources (CPRs) in the past 25 years and consider its usefulness in the analysis of scholarly information as a resource. We will suggest ways in which the study of the governance and management of common-pool resources can be applied to the analysis of information and 'the intellectual public domain.' The complexity of the issues is enormous for many reasons: the vast number of players, multiple conflicting interests, rapid changes of technology, the general lack of understanding of digital technologies, local versus global arenas, and a chronic lack of precision about the information resource at hand. We suggest, in the tradition of Hayek, that the combination of time and place analysis with general scientific knowledge is necessary for sufficient understanding of policy and action. In addition, the careful development of an unambiguous language and agreed-upon definitions is imperative. "As one of the framing papers for the Conference on the Public Domain, we focus on the language, the methodology, and outcomes of research on common-pool resources in order to better understand how various types of property regimes affect the provision, production, distribution, appropriation, and consumption of scholarly information. Our analysis will suggest that collective action and new institutional design play as large a part in the shaping of scholarly information as do legal restrictions and market forces."

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