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User Patronage: the Return of the Gift in the “Crowd Society”In this work, I discuss the tension between gift and market economy throughout the history of creativity. For millennia, the production of creative artifacts has lain at the intersection between gift and market economy. From the time of Pindar and Simonides — and until the Romanticism will commence a process leading to the complete commodification of creative artifacts — market exchange models run parallel to gift exchange. From Roman amicitia to the medieval and Renaissance belief that scientia donum dei est, unde vendi non potest, creativity has been repeatedly construed as a gift. Again, at the time of the British and French “battle of the booksellers,” the rhetoric of the gift still resounded powerfully from the nebula of the past to shape the constitutional moment of copyright law. The return of gift exchange models has a credible source in the history of creativity. Today, after a long unchallenged dominance of the market, gift economy is regaining momentum in the digital society. The anthropological and sociological studies of gift exchange, such as Marcel Mauss’s The Gift, served to explain the phenomenon of open source software and hacker communities. Later, communities of social trust — such as Wikipedia, YouTube, and fan-fiction communities — spread virally online through gift exchange models. In peer and user-generated production, community recognition supersedes economic incentives. User-based creativity thrives on the idea of “playful enjoyment,” rather than economic incentives. Anthropologists placed societies on an economic evolutionary scale from gift to commodity exchange; in a continuum from the clan to capitalist system of organization. I suggest that this continuum should now extend to the “crowd society,” which features new modes of social interaction in digital online communities. The networked, open, and mass-collaborative character of the crowd society enhances the proliferativeness of the gift exchange model that lies in what anthropologists and social scientists described as a debt-economy. The exploration of the creative mechanics of online communities put under scrutiny the validity of utilitarian theories of copyright and traditional market economy models. From Émile Durkheim and Mauss to Alain Caillé, anti-utilitarian thought designed a new political economy that defines humans as a “cooperative species,” rather than Homo economicus. In this context, I look into commons theory, through the lens of Elinor Ostrom’s work, and its application to modern commons-based peer production with special emphasis on Yochai Benkler and Jerome Reichman’s work. In conclusion, I evoke Jean Baudrillard’s essential question: “Will we return, one day, beyond the market economy, to prodigality?” I consider whether the digital revolution that promoted the emergence of the networked information economy is that “revolution of the social organization and of social relations” that might bring about, according to Jean Baudrillard, “real affluence” through a return to “collective prodigality,” rather than our “productivistic societies, which [...] are dominated by scarcity, by the obsession with scarcity characteristic of the market economy.” I argue that a possibility for the reinstatement of Baudrillard’s “collective prodigality” might have materialized in the “crowd society” thanks to technological advancement and the emergence of a consumer gift system or “user patronage,” promoting an unrestrained, diffused, and networked discourse between creators and the public through digital crowd-funding.
A pragmatic approach to intellectual property and development: A case study of the Jordanian copyright law in the internet ageOn October 4, 2004, Brazil and Argentina requested that WIPO adopt a development-oriented approach to IP and to reconsider its work in relation to developing countries. In October, 2007, WIPO member States adopted a historic decision for the benefit of developing countries, to establish a WIPO Development Agenda. Although there have been several studies related to IP and development that call for IP laws in developing countries to be development-friendly, there is little research that attempts to provide developing countries with practical measures to achieve that goal. This article takes the copyright law in Jordan as a case study and shows how, in practical terms, a pro-development-oriented approach could be implemented in the copyright laws of developing countries. It provides specific recommendations for developing countries to ensure that their IP laws are aligned with and serve their social and economic development objectives.
The Napster decision : implications for copyright law in the digital ageChallenges posed to copyright law in the digital age is most evident in A and M Records Inc v Napster Inc - the various court rulings indicate that Napster is likely to be held responsible for massive copyright infringement should the case come to a full trial - implications for Australian copyright law, the recording industry and individual artists - globalisation may hinder the ability of the recording industry to prevent mass copyright infringement.
Ideas, Artifacts, and Facilities: Information as a Common-Pool Resource"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."
Pervasively Distributed Copyright EnforcementIn an effort to control flows of unauthorized information, the major copyright industries are pursuing a range of strategies designed to distribute copyright enforcement functions across a wide range of actors and to embed these functions within communications networks, protocols, and devices. Some of these strategies have received considerable academic and public scrutiny, but much less attention has been paid to the ways in which all of them overlap and intersect with one another. This article offers a framework for theorizing this process. The distributed extension of intellectual property enforcement into private spaces and throughout communications networks can be understood as a new, hybrid species of disciplinary regime that locates the justification for its pervasive reach in a permanent state of crisis. This hybrid regime derives its force neither primarily from centralized authority nor primarily from decentralized, internalized norms, but instead from a set of coordinated processes for authorizing flows of information. Although the success of this project is not yet assured, its odds of success are by no means remote as skeptics have suggested. Power to implement crisis management in the decentralized marketplace for digital content arises from a confluence of private and public interests and is amplified by the dynamics of technical standards processes. The emergent regime of pervasively distributed copyright enforcement has profound implications for the production of the networked information society.