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The Commons as a Neglected Factor of Information Policy

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Benkler, Yochai
Conference: 26th Annual Telecommunications Research Conference
Location: Alexandria, VA
Conf. Date: October 3-5, 1998
Date: 1998
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/414
Sector: Information & Knowledge
Region: North America
Subject(s): information--policy
radio spectrum
common pool resources
intellectual property rights
public policy
Abstract: "Direct government intervention and privatization have long been the dominant institutional approaches to implementing information policy. Policies pursued using these approaches have tended to result in a centralized information production and exchange system. The paper suggests that adding a third cluster of institutional devices, commons, may be a more effective approach to decentralizing information production. The paper uses two examples, from spectrum regulation and intellectual property, to show that regulating certain resources as commons is feasible, and that such commons can cause organizations and individuals who use these resources to organize the way they produce information in a decentralized pattern. The paper suggests that identifying additional resources capable of being used as commons, and investing in the institutional design necessary to maintain stable commons in these resources, serves two constitutional commitments. First, commons are the preferred approach to serving the commitment that government not unnecessarily prevent individuals from using or communicating information. Second, commons facilitate the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources."

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