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The Information Commons
By Nancy Kranich
Contents and Executive Summary
I. Opportunities and Challenges of the Information Age
II. THE EMERGING INFORMATION COMMONS
History and Theories
of the Commons
Americans jointly own, share, and administer a wide range of common assets, including natural resources, public lands, schools, libraries, and scientific knowledge. It is often difficult for these essential resources to attract the funding necessary to sustain their future, especially when the marketplace dominates political priorities. Yet neglecting them impoverishes culture and endangers democracy. It is for this reason that, as the legal scholar Edwin Baker notes, "most democracies use a combination of market and nonmarket devices" to assure that citizens get the information they need. Among the important nonmarket devices have been government publications, public libraries, and public broadcasting.47
Historically, the "commons" meant the agricultural fields used
freely by farmers in England to grow food and pasture animals. Between
1500 and 1800, however, many of these common fields were transformed into
private property in order to boost agricultural production, accommodate
population changes, improve soil, advance industrial development, and
bring lands under the control of wealthy aristocrats. This "enclosure"
movement transformed a traditional, communal method of agriculture into
a system in which one person's farm became separated from his neighbors'.
Enclosure occurred both piecemeal and by general legislative action. No
single decision or act caused the enclosure of public fields - a story
similar to today's enclosure of the commons of the mind.48
But throughout history, people have retained common property such as
forests, fields, and fisheries, and have managed these resources effectively,
without depleting them. The debate that has ensued for hundreds of years
over ownership of property thus remains unresolved. Traditionally, lawyers
and economists have considered ownership either within the realm of a
marketplace for private property or a market failure requiring government
management. Resources such as common property have fallen between this
private-public ownership dichotomy.49
The 1861 publication of Ancient Law by Henry Sumner Maine fueled
this debate about whether landed proprietors have a special role needing
legal protection, and about the legitimacy of enclosing communally owned
properties.50 More recently, economists have begun to
recognize common property as a legitimate framework for managing certain
categories of goods. In the mid-1950s, the social scientists H. Scott
Gordon and Anthony Scott kicked off their own debate about the commons
by introducing an economic analysis of fisheries in two articles that
are now credited with outlining the conventional theory of the commons.51
Then, Garrett Hardin wrote his now-famous 1968 article, "The Tragedy
of the Commons," which used the example of overgrazing to argue that
unlimited access to resources results in excessive demand and, consequently,
in overexploitation.52 Unwilling to concede to Hardin's
argument, scholars from several disciplines began countering with their
own studies of common property resources, where group control over the
resource does not lead to overuse, but to the balancing of benefits and
Prominent among these scholars is Carol Rose, who has proposed the reverse
of the tragedy of the commons for certain types of activities where individuals
may "underinvest," as at a festival or on a dance floor. At
least within the limits of the community, the more who join, the greater
the enjoyment of each participant. "Activities of this sort may have
value precisely because they reinforce the solidarity and fellow feeling
of the community as a whole; thus, the more members of the community who
participate, even only as observers, the better for all." Rose refers
to this type of behavior as the "comedy of the commons," because
indefinite numbers and expandability of participation enhance rather than
diminish value. She elaborates on this idea using the phrase "the
more the merrier" and analogizing to economies of scale, where the
larger the investment, the higher the rate of return. Rose contends that
people need encouragement to join such nonexclusive activities, where
their participation produces beneficial "externalities" for
Since Hardin, other scholars such as Siegfried Ciriacy-Wantrup and Richard
Bishop have distinguished between two types of legal regimes that govern
commons: open-access (or "no property") regimes and common property
regimes. With open access regimes, nobody has the legal right to exclude
anyone else from using the resource, but the tragedy of the commons may
ensue because of overuse or destruction. In contrast, common property
regimes, which regulate the use of so-called "common-pool resources,"
provide members of a clearly defined group with a bundle of legal rights,
including the right to exclude nonmembers from using the resource; here,
the comedy of the commons is more likely.55 Some of
the examples of information commons described later in this report fit
the open access model; others are closer to common property regimes.
The common-pool resources that are regulated by common property regimes
resemble what economists call public goods, such as parks, public transportation,
police and fire protection, and national defense. Neither common-pool
resources nor public goods can exclude beneficiaries easily. But unlike
public goods, common pool resources are managed based on intensity of
use and delineation of eligible users.56
Since the late 1960s, economists have debated the emergence, efficiency,
and stability of common property regimes. One leading economist, Carl
Dahlman, concluded that economic theory does not imply that communal ownership
and collective control are necessarily inefficient. On the contrary, he
says, economic theory will predict that under certain conditions, such
arrangements are superior to private ownership and individual control.57
A number of other social scientists and legal scholars have also examined
how common property resources work. A leader in the field, Elinor Ostrom,
has analyzed the characteristics of resources held in common, and concluded
that the common property regimes that regulate these resources are distinguished
by group, rather than individual, control; the group is then responsible
for balancing benefits and costs, defining who may participate in resource
use and to what degree, and designating who will make management decisions.58
Ostrom and her colleague Edella Schlager underscore that it is "the
difference between exercising a right and participating in the definition
of future rights to be exercised
[that] makes collective-choice
rights so powerful."59
To counter Hardin's presumption that all common-pool resources are open
access, Ostrom studied the behavior of these resources when they are regulated
under common property regimes. In a study for the National Research Council
in the mid-1980s, she outlined the components of governance necessary
to sustain common property resources efficiently, focusing initially on
natural resources in developing countries.60 Later,
she helped found the International Association for the Study of Common
Property (IASCP), which hosted a 1995 conference entitled "Reinventing
the Commons." The conference focused on new topics such as genetic
resources, roads, the atmosphere, biodiversity, patents, and the Internet.61
Ostrom's seminal work, Governing the Commons, provided a systematic
blueprint for understanding the economic and experimental foundations
for common property regimes. By studying a variety of common-pool resources
in order to respond to Hardin's "tragedy," Ostrom laid out a
framework for assessing commons, plus eight design principles that enable
people to use these resources over a long period of time. Included in
the framework are conditions necessary for self-governance: clearly defined
boundaries, the design and enforcement of rules, reciprocity (the equal
exchange of goods and knowledge), building trust and social capital, and
communication channels.62 Thanks to Ostrom and her colleagues,
groups interested in developing and managing common property now have
a useful framework for understanding how to do it.
More recently, Ostrom has applied her theories to understanding information
as a common property resource. Together with Charlotte Hess, Ostrom has
described the complex tangible and intangible attributes of information,
particularly in digital form, with its fuzzy boundaries, diverse community
of users on local, regional, national, and international levels, and multiple
layers of rule-making.63
Applying the Idea of the
Commons to Information
Just as common property scholars are presenting a framework for understanding
and governing commons, scholars in other fields have recognized the importance
of shared information spaces for promoting democracy and the free flow
of ideas. Civil society researchers such as Harry Boyte, Peter Levine,
and Lewis Friedland emphasize that shared public spaces are needed to
rekindle civic participation.64 Others who document
the impact of technology on society, like Lawrence Grossman, Anthony Wilhelm,
and Douglas Schuler, accentuate how access to cyberspace presents both
promises and challenges for wider participation in a 21st century democracy.65
Legal scholars have grasped the idea of the commons as a new approach
to understanding the nature of information, and to countering restrictions
imposed by copyright rules and DRM techniques.66 Joining
these scholars are librarians and other public interest advocates who
see the commons as a useful tool to reclaim public space and promote the
public interest in the digital age.67
A leader in the field has been David Bollier, who considers the commons
a critical contribution to a community of shared moral values and social
purpose. The value of the information commons thus goes far beyond maximizing
economic utility. Bollier and his colleague Tim Watts explain: "A
commons analysis gives us a way to speak coherently about another matrix
of concerns that are not given sufficient attention: democratic participation,
openness, social equity, and diversity."68
The legal scholar Yochai Benkler also emphasizes the importance of the
commons to promoting participation. Quoting the Supreme Court, Benkler
argues that a fundamental commitment of American democracy is to ensure
"the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and
antagonistic sources."69 Such a commitment requires
policies that make access to and use of information resources equally
and ubiquitously available to all users of a network. Benkler concludes:
Moving from theory to practice, library science professors Karen Fisher
and Joan Durrance have examined how information communities unite people
around a common interest through increased access to a diffused set of
information resources. The Internet is often the hub of these communities,
facilitating connections and collaborations among participants, the exchange
of ideas, distribution of papers, and links with others who have similar
interests and needs. They describe five characteristics that distinguish
these Internet-based information communities:
According to Fisher and Durrance, online communities that share the production
and distribution of information are likely to experience increased access
to and use of information, increased access to people and organizations,
and increased dialogue, communication, and collaboration among information
providers and constituents.71
Civil society scholars Lewis Friedland, Harry Boyte, and Peter Levine have tested the idea of the commons by establishing information communities in St. Paul, Minnesota and Prince Georges County, Maryland, in order to promote civic engagement, particularly among young people. Levine believes that such commons are appealing because they are not controlled by bureaucrats, experts, or profit-seeking companies, and they encourage more diverse uses and participation. Yet he also recognizes the vulnerability of such endeavors if they fail to adopt appropriate governance structures, rules, and management techniques so that they are equipped to survive in the face of rival alternatives, and avoid the anarchy that can result in the tragedy of the commons as described by Hardin.72
Friedland, Boyte, and Levine acknowledge the historic role of institutions
such as newspapers, schools, libraries, and community festivals in providing
opportunities for democratic participation and a collective deliberative
voice. To promote and sustain newly emerging information commons, they
urge continued sponsorship and collaboration with such institutions, along
with careful attention to governance structures.73 These
scholars believe that by applying the framework for governance and management
developed by social scientists like Ostrom, organizers of commons are
more likely to succeed in offering robust, democratic alternatives to
Civic-minded organizations have also assumed a role in advancing the
information commons. In 2000, Lewis Friedland's Center for Democracy and
Communication at the University of Wisconsin and Harry Boyte's Center
for Democracy and Citizenship at the University of Minnesota hosted a
New Information Commons Conference where participants sketched out a plan
for citizens, in partnership with community organizations, to build new
information spaces.76 At about the same time, the New
America Foundation launched its Information Commons Project, directed
by David Bollier.77 Jeffrey Chester's new Center for
Digital Democracy began a "Dot Commons" project to promote public
access to noncommercial sources of information.78 On
a more local level, students created the Swarthmore Coalition for the
Digital Commons, a computing freedom group dedicated to preserving the
free and open exchange of information both on campus and off.79
In the fall of 2001, the American Library Association sponsored a conference
on the Information Commons, with commissioned papers on information equity,
copyright and fair use, and public access.80 A similar
meeting at Duke University, sponsored by the Center for the Public Domain,
a philanthropic foundation, followed.81 Funding from
the Rockefeller Foundation has helped ALA continue its work on the commons,
and the Mellon Foundation has enabled the Indiana University Workshop
in Political Theory and Policy Analysis to study how scholars are using
the concept of the commons to counteract the enclosure of academic research
In 2002 and 2003, the journals Boston Review, Knowledge Quest,
and Common Property Resource Digest devoted full issues to the
concept of the information commons.83 The Friends of
the Commons, started with help from David Bollier and funding from the
Tides Foundation, published its first annual report, The State of the
Commons, in 2003.84 At the World Summit on the Information
Society in December 2003, the advocacy group World-Information.org issued
a newspaper for delegates focusing on the topic, and posted other articles
on its Web site.85
Meanwhile, public interest advocates such as the Electronic Frontier
Foundation, the Center for Digital Democracy, the Center for Democracy
and Technology, Public Knowledge, and IP Justice began pushing for more
balanced information policies.86 Some legislators responded
with bills to encourage greater access to scientific research results,
enhancement of the public domain, and expanded rights for information
consumers.87 The law professor and cyber-activist Lawrence
Lessig initiated an online campaign to petition Congress to amend the
Copyright Term Extension Act so that owners would have to pay a $1 renewal
fee after 50 years. Since only about 2% of the works whose copyrights
were extended by the CTEA have any commercial value, most owners would
not bother with even this minimal exertion. The proposed legislation would
thus allow much of the remainder into the public domain after 50 years
rather than the longer terms dictated by the CTEA.88
Complementing these efforts is an initiative by Public Knowledge, Creative
Commons, and the Center for the Study of the Public Domain to collect
"public domain stories" in order to construct a new narrative
that dramatizes the value of public domain property and the cost to society
when it is lost. The organizers explain:
All of these activities are calling attention to the commons as a new,
dynamic approach to serving the public interest in the digital age. At
the same time, initiatives sponsored by scientists, librarians, nonprofit
groups, and many others have demonstrated that the information commons
can actually flourish. Many of these initiatives are highlighted in the
Examples of Open Democratic
New initiatives with characteristics of common property regimes are emerging.
They share features such as open and free access for designated communities,
self-governance, collaboration, free or low cost, and sustainability.
Some of these projects use the Internet itself as a commons, employing
open source software, peer-to-peer file sharing, and collaborative Web
sites, while others are more focused on content creation and dissemination.
While some consider the whole Internet or the public domain90
to be types of commons, these are essentially open access resources and
lack the clearly defined group governance that is characteristic of common
property regimes. Thus, while not every example below fully embodies all
aspects of commons, they all represent exciting new alternatives to a
purely private property-driven approach to information and ideas.
Computer software designers were among the first to recognize the importance
of developing a commons-like structure to share computer code and collaborate
on modifying and upgrading electronic products. Innovative programmers
created hundreds of open source software applications that are available
without the restrictive licensing provisions of commercial software.91
The best known example is Linux,92 an open source version
of the UNIX operating system. Other examples include personal digital
assistants (PDAs) that use Linux, and "Wiki," a collaborative
authoring tool for Web pages.93 The Google search engine
also runs its servers on the Linux open source system.94
Most open source software, while not in the public domain, is available
for little or no cost and can be used and redistributed without restriction.
End users are welcome to review, use, and modify the source code without
payment of royalties, as long as their changes are shared with the open
source community. Open source preserves the digital commons, while ensuring
that breaches in licensing terms are subject to rules and an enforcement
regime. The code is protected by a special license so that improvements
cannot be redistributed without the source code.95 Open
source harnesses the distributive powers of the Internet, parcels the
work out to thousands, and uses their contributions to build and improve
While colleges and universities have long collaborated on open source
projects such as Linux, financial strains are now prompting them, along
with a number of national, state, and city government entities, to mandate
the use of open source. While some for-profit companies like Microsoft
are nervous about the increasing popularity of open source, others, such
as Sun Microsystems, are offering government entities the StarOffice program
for free; it is based on the open source software called OpenOffice.96
In 2001, IBM committed to supporting Linux, and now has a growing pool
of more than 6,000 customers.97 Perhaps most significant,
the next generation of computer operating system, "Grid," is
built on open source software.98
The open collaborative software model has spread to other fields. Biologists
are using open source methods to build massive databases, such as genetic
sequencing, that are essential to lab research.99 NASA
uses open source principles for its Mars mission, with the help of volunteers
who identify craters and map the planet.100 Prentice
Hall is publishing a series of computer books that readers can modify
and redistribute.101 There is even an Open Source
Other examples of open source software commons include Project Gutenberg
Distributed Proofreaders, which contributes to a respected online archive
of works that are in the public domain; the Open Digital Rights Language
Initiative, an international effort aimed at developing an open standard
for managing DRM for the publishing, education, entertainment, and software
industries; and the Open Directory Project, "the largest and most
comprehensive human-edited directory of the Web."103
These and other software commons are described in the box below.
Licensing is the process that copyright owners use to control reproduction,
distribution, or other use of creative works. Many licenses are highly
specific, restrictive, and costly. To build the information commons, creators
have begun to use the licensing model to relax the stringency of commercial
licenses and grant permissions for many uses in advance, while still maintaining
some control over their work. By using licensing arrangements quite different
from those of media companies, they are able to contribute their work
to open-access publications and digital repositories.
One such licensing arrangement is the GNU General Public License (GPL),
developed by Richard Stallman at MIT in the 1980s. The GPL guarantees
that the material is free for all its users, and that it can be copied,
shared, and modified. It applies to most of the software distributed by
the Free Software Foundation, the organizational sponsor of the GPL Project,
and to any other program whose authors commit to using it. When users
distribute copies of such programs, the license requires that they give
the recipients all the same rights and make sure that they receive or
can get the source code.105
The GPL helps online communities of software developers maintain legal
control over their collective output by ensuring that anyone can be a
free-rider, which promotes use of the software code and improvements,
and preventing anyone from privatizing the code and claiming proprietary
control. According to David Bollier, the importance of the GPL is that
it "assures that the fruits of the commons will stay in the commons.
This gives the commons significant structural advantages over corporate-sponsored
software development."106 Increasingly, the openness
as well as the economics of supporting open source software makes it more
desirable for business as well as governments and nonprofit institutions.
The Creative Commons was founded to offer a similar set of flexible copyright
licenses for public use, with some rights reserved. It also offers a Web
application that helps people dedicate their creative works to the public
domain or license them as free for certain uses, under certain conditions.
Established in 2001 by Lawrence Lessig, James Boyle, and other cyberlaw
and computer experts with support from the Center for the Public Domain,
Creative Commons aims to increase the amount of source material online,
"develop a rich repository of high-quality works in a variety of
media, and promote an ethos of sharing, public education, and creative
interactivity."107 As of January 2004, at least
one million Web pages have used a Creative Commons License.108
In the 1980s, many professional societies turned over their journal publishing
to private firms as a way to contain membership fees and generate income.
The short-term financial gains, however, were offset by serious losses
in terms of access to research results once journal prices outpaced library
budgets. Prices of scholarly journals soared, and publishing conglomerates
restricted access through expensive licenses that often require bundled
or aggregated purchase of titles.109
As a result, research libraries had no recourse but to cut many of their
journal subscriptions. Faced with an increase in subscription prices of
220% since 1986 for journals like Nuclear Physics, Brain Research,
and Tetrahedron Letters, which now cost close to $20,000 per year,110
the academic community has sought ways to reclaim control of its research
and scholarship. Librarians have joined with scholars, academic administrators,
computer and information scientists, nonprofit publishers, and professional
societies to create more competition in, and alternative modes of, scholarly
publishing. While they may not define their efforts as a unified movement,
scholars have thus succeeded in launching well-managed, self-governed
research commons that promise sustainability and alternatives to the restrictive
Librarians have led the movement to develop alternative publishing modes.
For many years, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has collaborated
with foundations and higher education colleagues to document the problem
and identify solutions to the crisis faced by its members.111
The American Library Association's Association of College and Research
Libraries added another voice to the movement to reclaim the fruits of
scholarship in June 2003 by endorsing a statement of Principles and
Strategies for the Reform of Scholarly Communication.112
Following the librarians' example, the European and American academic
communities have created new institutions to manage and disseminate scholarly
information. Foremost among them is the Scholarly Publishing and Academic
Resources Coalition (SPARC), founded in 1998 as an alliance of universities,
research libraries, and organizations. SPARC now has 300 member institutions
in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
Beyond projects undertaken by SPARC, many professional societies in the
U.S. are adopting new paradigms for sharing research results. The American
Anthropological Association offers its members free online access to a
vast array of resources in anthropology. Similarly, the American Physical
Society permits its authors to post articles to digital repositories.113
Because the crisis in scholarly publishing hit science early and hard,
the scientific community has led the way in designing new modes to exchange
research and data.
One significant initiative is open access publishing, which allows wide
access to scholarly information online, without price and permission barriers.
Committing to open access means dispensing with the financial, technical,
and legal barriers that limit access to research articles to paying customers.
Like thousands of other online publications, open access scholarly resources
are available without charge. In addition, though, they are free of many
copyright and licensing restrictions, and some of them have other attributes
of common property regimes. Among the more than 700 open-access journals,
as of 2004, were titles as diverse as Cell Biology Education, Journal
of Arabic and Islamic Studies, The New England Journal of Political Science,
and Public Administration and Management.114
For scholars, being published in freely available online open-access
journals has dramatically increased the frequency of citation, ensuring
greater impact and faster scientific progress, particularly beyond the
borders of North America and Europe.115 As Peter Suber,
a former philosophy professor who now works for SPARC and Public Knowledge,
writes, adopting these new standards and structures will not only reduce
costs, but overcome barriers to access such as restrictive copyright laws,
licenses, and DRM.116
In 2002, the Soros Foundation's Open Society Institute developed the
Budapest Open Access Initiative in order to provide leadership, software,
technical standards, and funding for the development of new open-access
commons of scholarly literature in all academic fields. By early 2004,
the Initiative had been signed by 3,190 individuals and 247 organizations
worldwide, representing researchers, unions, laboratories, libraries,
foundations, journals, publishers, and learned societies. A number of
new, online open access journals began publication, funded by foundations,
academic societies, and other nonprofits, with assistance from SPARC and
the Open Society Institute.117
The challenge, of course, is to find additional and continuing ways to
finance these ventures. So far, the most common methods have been securing
grants from foundations and charging authors (or indirectly, the funders
of their research) for publication. In June 2003, a group of scientists,
librarians, higher education institutions, publishers, and scientific
societies issued a statement acknowledging that the cost of publishing
results is an essential part of scientific research and should not be
passed on to readers. This "Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing"
commits the signatory organizations to the transition to open access publishing
and sharing of scientific research results as widely as possible.118
In October 2003, German, French, Chinese, Italian, Hungarian, and Norwegian
research organizations signed a similar statement, the "Berlin Declaration
on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities."119
Another important foray into open access publishing for scholarly journals
came from Oxford University Press in August 2003, when it announced an
"open access experiment" with the annual Database Issue of its
Nucleic Acids journal. Published online in January 2004, the test
issue contained a record number of 142 freely available, peer-reviewed
papers, with 90% of the authors agreeing to pay the £300 author
charge.120 Martin Richardson, a managing editor of
the Journals Division at the Press, observed: "The real test will
come as we begin to increase the author charges to reflect the true publishing
costs." He added that the Press would take a "staged approach"
to explore issues surrounding transition to open access.121
Assisting with each stage of open access publishing, from managing submission
reviews through online publication and indexing, is a nonprofit advocacy
organization, the Public Knowledge Project at the University of British
Columbia. In the fall of 2003, this Project announced the availability
of a prototype called Open Journal Systems - free open source software
for journal management and publishing. Such standardized tools are likely
to assist organizations in adopting open access models. The Public Knowledge
Project is also applying open access tools in collaborations to develop
public information sources and interactive environments, including Multiliteracies,
a project to expand student literacy skills; Indigenation, a site
focused on Canada's First Nations (native Americans); e-commons,
a project that would enable students, journalists, and others to tap into
the University's Faculty of Education resources; and Vancouver Sun
newspaper links to articles on technology and education.125
While promising, many open access publishing experiments carry risks
and costs. Some question whether peer review will be as respected and
authoritative outside of commercial publications, and whether tenure committees
will recognize open access contributions. But as Hess and Ostrom have
pointed out, there is no question that the role of the scholar is changing.
Scholars worldwide are not only sustaining the resource (the intellectual
public domain) but building equity in information access and provision,
and creating more efficient methods of dissemination through shared protocols,
standards, and rules.126
A breakthrough for alternative distribution of scholarship came in October
1999 with the development of the Open Archives Initiative (the "OAI").
Funded by the Digital Library Federation, the Coalition for Networked
Information, and the National Science Foundation, this initiative works
with various information communities to develop tools for disseminating
scholarly papers efficiently. OAI develops and promotes interoperability
standards along with standardized descriptive cataloging, in order to
provide low-barrier, free access to archives of digital materials.127
In 2002, several institutions began using the OAI tool to launch digital
repositories. A combination of factors made this possible: rapidly dropping
online storage costs; progress in establishing standards for archiving,
describing, and preserving electronic publications; and successful demonstrations
of servers that supply material in specific academic disciplines like
physics. The result has been repositories that allow universities, disciplines,
and individuals to share research results and take a more active, collaborative
role in modernizing scholarly publishing. A 2002 publication by the Research
Libraries Group and OCLC, Inc., Trusted Digital Repositories: Attributes
and Responsibilities, articulated the characteristics and responsibilities
for large-scale, heterogeneous collections, helping digital repositories
provide the reliable, long-term access to resources required by their
Best known of the new institutional digital repositories is MIT's DSpace,
launched in November 2002 with the goal of making MIT faculty members'
scholarship widely available. DSpace has encouraged the development of
other systems that provide access to the collective intellectual resources
of the world's leading research institutions. According to Clifford Lynch,
executive director of the Coalition for Networked Information, this development
emerged "as a new strategy that allows universities to apply serious,
systematic leverage to accelerate changes taking place in scholarship
and scholarly communication." It moves universities "beyond
their historic relatively passive role of supporting established publishers,"
and enables them to explore "more transformative new uses of the
Like universities, academic disciplines have also created a rich array
of repositories. The first, the Los Alamos ArXiv.org, http://www.arxiv.org,
was begun in 1991 by physicist Paul Ginsparg, in order to provide low-cost
access to scientific research before it was peer-reviewed and published
in journals. It is an open access, electronic archive and distribution
server for research papers in physics and related disciplines such as
mathematics, computer science, and quantitative biology. Originally hosted
at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, this pioneering effort in free
online exchange of scientific information is now maintained by the Cornell
University Libraries, with advisors from several subject fields covered
by the repository and partial funding from the National Science Foundation.
Reciprocity is assured because scientists both depend on the ArXiv for
access to others' work and use it to deposit their own writings. Participation
is governed by norms that require authors to submit only those items that
are "of refereeable quality."132 Authors
maintain their papers on the ArXiv server, even if they are later published
in peer-reviewed journals.133
By 2004, the ArXiv.org e-print service was receiving as many as 120,000
queries per day, and included more than 250,000 papers. It had become
such a mainstream component of physics publishing that one astrophysicist
said he would not consider publishing in any journal without also posting
a preprint on the ArXiv.org server.134 His attitude
is understandable, since astrophysics papers on deposit in ArXiv are cited
about twice as often as astrophysics papers that are not, according to
a report presented at the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Publications
Board in November 2003.135
Following the success of ArXiv.org, numerous other digital repositories
in specific academic disciplines have been created.
Individual authors are also distributing their own scholarly information
through personal Web sites or independent repositories. By retaining rights
to archival copies of their publications, scholars become part of an international
information community that increases access and benefits for everyone.
According to Stevan Harnad and other researchers at the University of
Loughborough in England, 55% of journals now officially authorize self-archiving,
and many others will permit it upon request, demonstrating the dedication
of many scholarly publications to promoting rather than blocking research
impact.136 As with many forms of information, rewards
are reaped from increased reading and use, rather than from royalties
on commercial sales.
The international scholarly community is increasingly aware that its
shared information assets are at risk. Recognizing that collaborative
research necessitates open access and communication, groups of scholars
and information specialists have begun coordinating strategies to obtain
higher joint benefits and to reduce their joint harm from information
enclosure. Although many of these collective-action initiatives are still
experimental, their success and popularity give hope that scholarly information
commons can thrive.
Over many centuries, information communities resided in institutions
like universities, schools, and libraries. Today, university presidents
such as NYU's John Sexton recognize the importance of moving their institutions
toward an information commons model. Sexton believes that universities
are now threatened by the tragedy of the commons, and must respond by
building a "common enterprise community" as a sanctuary for
knowledge creation. One way that universities can serve the broader public
interest, Sexton says, is by requiring that publicly funded research discoveries
be in the public domain.137
MIT has led the way in creating a university-level institutional commons.
Its OpenCourseWare project, http://ocw.mit.edu/index.html,
makes a huge range of course materials freely available to anyone across
the globe; this includes course outlines, lecture notes, readings, problems,
and solutions. More than 600 of MIT's approximately 950 faculty members
participate, with more than 700 courses available online as of spring,
K-12 public schools should provide a similar shared resource for younger
people. Public schools offer youngsters equitable opportunities to achieve
and advance, and the skills to participate in all aspects of society,
representing a commons similar to the enterprise model of universities.
One state that recognizes this is Washington, which has launched a Digital
Learning Commons (DLC) that will harness technology to provide all the
state's students access to high-quality online courses, digital resources,
and learning tools. The project will create a shared infrastructure that
will centralize and coordinate a multitude of learning initiatives, in
partnership with the rich array of educational and cultural organizations
in the state. It will be run by a nonprofit organization, working closely
with schools and students to ensure a responsive, equitable resource available
to rural and urban residents alike. Initial funding for a "proof
of concept" phase of the project comes from private-public partnerships
with seed money from the state. When the commons is fully implemented
in 2005, school districts and the state will assume the cost of delivering
online courses, while a combination of state, federal, and foundation
sources will pay for learning resources, technology tools, and course
Libraries are quintessential examples of institutional information commons.
They embrace, embody, and practice the democratic values that characterize
commons. Their mission is to provide communities with open, equitable,
sustained access to ideas, and they offer individuals the tools, skills,
and spaces necessary to participate in democratic discourse. Starting
with free Internet services, libraries have taken a leading role in promoting
alternative modes of access to information that transcend DRM, copyright
term extension, and other forms of enclosure.
Over the past two decades, academic and research libraries have spearheaded
the transition of scholarly communication. Efforts to digitize their own
materials are evolving in the U.S. into a collaborative endeavor called
the Distributed Open Digital Library (DODL), which will provide universal
electronic access to public domain humanities and social science collections
from multiple research institutions.139 A similar effort
in the United Kingdom will extend beyond universities to include some
20 public sector and other organizations that will form a Common Information
Environment Group to serve the information needs of a wider audience of
In addition to projects to expand access to collections, academic libraries
at Indiana University, the University of Arizona, and elsewhere have remodeled
their facilities to create physical commons that organize workspace and
service delivery around an integrated digital environment, often in spaces
adjacent to critical campus units such as the library, the university
teaching center, and the computer center. Some of these spaces are called
information commons, where disparate resources are brought together by
librarians and information technology staff. Others are referred to as
learning commons, where students share learning tasks.141
Collaborative, online libraries are also among the proliferating examples
of information commons. See the box below for some prominent examples.
Finally, the Digital Promise Project, co-chaired by Newton Minow and
Lawrence Grossman, is promoting the creation of a Digital Opportunity
Investment Trust ("DO IT"), a nonprofit, nongovernmental agency
that would deploy the Internet and other new information technologies
to ensure public access to knowledge and learning-across-a-lifetime in
the sciences and humanities. DO IT would also stimulate public and private
sector research into the development and use of new learning techniques
and encourage digitization of cultural resources held by libraries, museums,
and universities, with funding dedicated by Congress from the proceeds
of spectrum auctions. Legislation was introduced in November 2003 to support
Subject Matter Information
Beyond the cross-disciplinary archiving and publishing efforts evolving among scholars and cultural institutions, information communities worldwide have developed a broad array of projects that focus on particular subjects. These efforts incorporate many of the characteristics of commons. Examples range from civic engagement to cultural exchange, and from collaborative publishing to dissemination of specialized resources. See the box below for a sampling of these projects.
In addition to the many ongoing projects, two initiatives that, as of
spring 2004, were still in the design stage, demonstrate the range of
possibilities for subject-matter commons. The BBC Creative Archive, a
project under development by the British Broadcasting Corporation, plans
to make the contents of its vast archive available to the public so long
as any re-use is for noncommercial purposes. The BBC Creative Archive
will enable not only the British but people across the globe to cultivate
this national resource.144
The Galiwinku Knowledge Centre, established to preserve and revive Australia's indigenous cultures, is creating an elaborate digital database of words, music, and dance steps representing the entire intellectual system of the people of Galiwinku on Elcho Island, off the northeast coast of Australia. The project is probably the world's first software system being tested and perfected by indigenous people seeking to map their knowledge.145
Principles and Characteristics
of Information Commons
The examples of information commons described in this report have similar
characteristics. They are collaborative. They offer shared spaces, real
and virtual, where communities with common interests and concerns gather.
They take advantage of the networked environment to build information
communities, and they benefit from network externalities, meaning the
greater the participation, the more valuable the resource. They are interactive,
encouraging discourse and exchange among their members. Many are free
or low cost. Their participants often contribute new creations after they
gain and benefit from access. These commons enhance both human and social
capital. Their governance is shared, with rules and norms that are defined
and accepted by their constituents. They incorporate democratic values.
Free expression and intellectual freedom prevail.
Many of these characteristics of information commons are consistent with
the principles developed by public interest groups in the late 1980s and
early 1990s as they tried to sort through the many disputes about information
enclosure. To cope, these groups began developing principles that served
as a baseline for evaluating potential policy changes. Among the first
to draft such principles were the American Library Association and the
Telecommunications Roundtable, an alliance of public interest groups in
Washington that was active in the early 1990s.147
In 1993, the Aspen Institute hosted a working meeting of industry, academic,
foundation, and public interest representatives to express some of these
"first principles" in the areas of communication, privacy, and
information policy. Aspen's Communication and Society Program published
the outcome of these discussions as Toward An Information Bill of Rights
and Responsibilities.148 Today, numerous organizations
around the globe have drafted similar principles and statements. The Appendix
lists many of them, along with Web links to their documents.
Among the most common factors highlighted in these statements are free
expression and the right to communicate and gain access to information.
Other commonly cited goals are diversity of content, preservation of culture,
open access, protection of the public domain, bridging the digital divide,
use of open source software, privacy protection, participation in democratic
processes, and structural regulation of the mass media to prevent unchecked
consolidation and power. While few of these statements refer specifically
to commons, most support the values outlined in this report.
Of the organizations listed, technology and Internet groups have a strong
focus on technical issues and the right to communicate. One example is
the Association for Progressive Communications, which offers a comprehensive
"Internet Rights Charter."149 Another is
the UK-based Manifesto for Online Communities, which states that
the Internet should "enhance rather than restrict democracy, [and]
enable us to be active citizens."150
Groups that advocate stronger political participation, such as Greater
Democracy and the Center for Digital Democracy, echo this concern for
civic engagement.151 Media advocacy organizations stress
free expression, accessibility, multiple competing channels of information,
diversity of sources and voices, the public domain, and fair allocation
of the broadcast spectrum. Although international organizations are more
vague and generalizing in their public statements, they also proclaim
the inherent communication rights of citizens. Excerpts from the statement
passed by civil society groups at the World Summit on the Information
Society in December 2003 are a good example:
Finally, librarians and publishers focus extensively on free expression, open access, and affordability. Of this group, the American Library Association has updated its earlier document that now offers a comprehensive statement related to networking principles as well as another specifically addressing information commons.153 The ALA's 2001 roundtable, "The Information Commons, New Technology, and the Future of Libraries," established 12 principles or discussion points to be used in developing the information commons, among them that "information is a key resource that has a central role in our development as citizens and human beings"; that "some elements of the commons are embodied in ideas such as fair use and the public domain"; and that "we might understand the commons as a 'place' or 'space,' but we should also understand the commons as a collection of processes for meeting the information needs of our societies."
Finally, says the ALA:
NOTES [all URLs checked in March 2004]
47. Baker, supra n. 21, p. 73.
48. See J. A. Yelling, Common Field and Enclosure in England 1450-1850, Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1977; Michael Turner, Enclosures in Britain 1750-1830, London: Macmillan, 1984.
49. Charlotte Hess and Elinor Ostrom, "Ideas, Artifacts,
and Facilities: Information as a Common-Pool Resource," Law &
Contemporary Problems, vol. 66, #1 & 2 (Winter/Spring 2003), pp.114-18,
50. Henry Sumner Maine, Ancient Law: its Connection with the Early History of Society and its Relation to Modern Ideas, Tucson: U. of Arizona Press, 1986.
51. H. Scott Gordon, "The Economic Theory of a Common-Property Resource: The Fishery," Journal of Political Economy, vol. 62, #2 (Apr. 1954): 124-142; Anthony D. Scott, "The Fishery: The Objectives of Sole Ownership," Journal of Political Economy, vol. 63, # 2 (Apr. 1955): 116-124.
52. Garrett Hardin, "The Tragedy of the Commons," Science, vol. 162, (Dec. 1968): 1243-48.
53. See, e.g., National Research Council, Proceedings of the Conference on Common Property Resource Management, Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1986; Elinor Ostrom, et. al., The Drama of the Commons, prepared for the National Research Council, Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2002, http://books.nap.edu/books/0309082501/html/1.html; Elinor Ostrom, Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action, NY: Cambridge U. Press, 1990; Elinor Ostrom, Roy Gardner, and James Walker, Rules, Games, and Common-Pool Resource, Ann Arbor: U. of Michigan Press, 1994; David Bromley, Making the Commons Work: Theory, Practice, and Policy, San Francisco: Institute for Contemporary Studies, 1992; Adrienne Heritier, ed., Common Goods: Reinventing European and International Governance, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littefield, 2002; Susan Buck, The Global Commons: An Introduction, Washington, DC: Island Press, 1998.
54. Rose, supra n. 46, p. 141.
55. Siegfried V. Ciriacy-Wantrup and Richard C. Bishop, "'Common Property' as a Concept in Natural Resource Policy," Natural Resources Journal, vol. 15 (1975): 713-27.
56. See Glenn G. Stevenson, Common Property Economics: A General Theory and Land Use Applications, NY: Cambridge U. Press, 1991, pp. 54-57.
57. Carl Dahlman, The Open Field System and Beyond: A Property Rights Analysis of an Economic Institution, NY: Cambridge U. Press, 1980, p. 6. See also Vincent Ostrom and Elinor Ostrom, "Public Goods and Public Choices," in Alternatives for Delivering Public Services: Toward Improved Performance, Emanuel S. Savas, ed., Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1977, pp. 7, 9-14. Another economist, Glenn Stevenson, has identified seven useful characteristics that distinguish common goods from public and private goods: (1) well defined boundaries; (2) well-delineated group of users; (3) multiple users of the resource; (4) well-understood rules; (5) shared rights to use the resource; (6) competition for the resource; and, (7) well-delineated group of rights holders. His examples include communal forests in Europe that are group-managed for a limited, well-defined community, and grazing lands available to residents of a particular village during certain pre-determined dates for a limited number of animals. Stevenson, supra n.56, p. 47.
58. Ostrom, 1990, supra n. 53; see also Edella Schlager and Elinor Ostrom, "Property-Rights Regimes and Natural Resources: A Conceptual Analysis," Land Economics, vol. 68, #3 (1992): 249-62; Elinor Ostrom, "Property-Right Regimes and Common Goods: A Complex Link," in Common Goods, supra n. 53.
59. Schlager and Ostrom, supra n. 58, pp. 250-51.
60. See National Research Council, supra n. 53; Elinor Ostrom, "A Method of Institutional Analysis," in F.X. Kaufmann, G. Majone, and V. Ostrom, Guidance, Control, and Evaluation in the Public Sector, NY: Walter de Gruyter, 1986: 459-75; Oakerson, 1992, supra n. 1; Buck, supra n. 53, pp. 21-44.
61. IASCP, "Reinventing the Commons," The Fifth
Annual IASCP Conference, Bodoe, Norway: Agricultural U. of Norway, U.
of Trondheim and Partners, May 24-28, 1995, http://www.indiana.edu/~iascp/past.html;
see also http://www.indiana.edu/~iascp; Charlotte Hess, "Is There
Anything New Under the Sun?: A Discussion and Survey of Studies on New
Commons and the Internet," Paper presented at "Constituting
the Commons," 8th biennial conference of the International Association
for the Study of Common Property, May 31-June 4, 2000, Bloomington, IN,
62. Ostrom, 1990, supra n. 53; see also Elinor Ostrom, Roy Gardner and James Walker, Rules, Games, and Common-Pool Resources, Ann Arbor: U. of Michigan Press, 1994: 23-50; Vincent Ostrom and Elinor Ostrom, supra n. 57, pp. 7, 9-14; Thomas Dietz, Elinor Ostrom, and Paul C. Stern, "The Struggle to Govern the Commons," Science, vol. 302, # 5652, (Dec. 12 2003): 1907-12; Jules Pretty, "Social Capital and the Collective Management of Resources," Science, vol. 302, # 5652, (Dec. 12 2003): 1912-13.
63. Hess and Ostrom, supra n. 49, p. 132.
64. See, e.g., Benjamin Barber, Strong Democracy, Berkeley: U. of California Press, 1984; Benjamin Barber, A Place for Us: How to Make Society Civil and Strong, NY: Hill & Wang, 1998; Harry C. Boyte, The Backyard Revolution: Understanding the New Citizen Movement, Philadelphia: Temple U. Press, 1980; Harry C. Boyte, Commonwealth: A Return to Citizen Politics, NY: The Free Press, 1989; Harry C. Boyte and Sara M. Evans, Free Spaces: The Sources of Democratic Change in America, NY: Harper & Row, 1986, rev. ed. Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 1992; Friedland and Boyte, supra n. 2; Peter Levine, "Building the Electronic Commons," The Good Society, vol. 11, #3, 2002: 4-9, http://www.peterlevine.ws/goodsociety.pdf; Peter Levine, "Civic Renewal and the Commons of Cyberspace," National Civic Review, vol. 90, # 3, (Fall 2001): 205-12, http://www.ncl.org/publications/ncr/90-3/chapter1.pdf; Ronald Hayuk and Kevin Mattson. eds., Democracy's Moment: Reforming the American Political System for the 21st Century, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002; Carmen Sirianni and Lewis Friedland, Civic Innovation in America: Community Empowerment, Public Policy, and the Movement for Civic Renewal, Berkeley: U. of California Press, 2001.
65. See, e.g., Lawrence Grossman, The Electronic Republic: The Transformation of American Democracy, NY: Viking, 1995; Roza Tsagarousianou, Damian Tambini, and Cathy Bryan, eds., Cyberdemocracy: Technology, Cities and Civic Networks, NY, Routledge, 1998; Anthony G. Wilhelm, Democracy in the Digital Age: Challenges to Political Life in Cyberspace, NY: Routledge, 2000; Douglas Schuler, New Community Networks: Wired for Change, Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1996; Douglas Schuler and Peter Day, eds., Shaping the Network Society, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004; Rheingold, supra n. 26; Bruce Bimber, Information and American Democracy: Technology in the Evolution of Political Power, NY: Cambridge U. Press, 2003.
66. See, e.g., Yochai Benkler, "Overcoming
Agoraphobia: Building the Commons of the Digitally Networked Environment,"
Harvard J. of Law and Technology, vol. 11, # 2 (Winter 1998): 287-400,
http://www.law.nyu.edu/benklery/agoraphobia.pdf; Yochai Benkler, "The
Battle Over the Institutional Ecosystem in the Digital Environment,"
Communications of the ACM, vol. 44, #2, Feb. 2001: 84-90, http://www.law.nyu.edu/benklery/CACM.pdf;
James Boyle, "Fencing Off Ideas," Daedalus, vol. 131,
no. 2 (Apr. 2002): 13-25, http://www.law.duke.edu/boylesite; James Boyle,
"The Second Enclosure Movement and the Construction of the Public
Domain," Law & Contemporary Problems, supra n. 49, pp.
33-74; James Boyle, "A Politics of Intellectual Property: Environmentalism
for the Net?" Law in the Information Society, 1997, http://www.law.duke.edu/boylesite/intprop.htm;
Lessig, supra n. 45; Carol Rose, "The Comedy of the Commons: Commerce,
Custom, and Inherently Public Property," U. of Chicago L. Rev.,
vol. 53 (1986): 711-81; Carol Rose, "Romans, Roads, and Romantic
Creators: Traditions of Public Property in the Information Age, Law
& Contemporary Problems, supra, pp. 89-110.
67. See, e.g., Nancy Kranich, "Libraries: The Information Commons of Civil Society," in Douglas Schuler and Peter Day, Shaping the Network Society, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, June 2004; Hess, supra n. 61; Daniel Lee, "Constructing the Commons: Practical Projects to Build the Information Commons," Knowledge Quest, vol. 31, #4, (Mar./Apr. 2003): 13-15; Bollier, Public Assets, supra n. 3; Bollier and Watts, supra n. 3; Bollier, Silent Theft, supra n. 3; Jeffrey Chester, "The Dot-Commons Concept: Making the Internet Safe for Democracy." Washington, DC: Center for Digital Democracy, http://www.democraticmedia.org/issues/digitalcommons/index.html.
68. Bollier and Watts, supra n. 3, p. 3; see also David Bollier, "The Rediscovery of the Commons," Upgrade, vol. 4, # 3, (June 2003): 10-12, http://www.upgrade-cepis.org/issues/2003/3/up4-3Bollier.pdf.
69. Associated Press v. United States, 326 U.S. 1, 20 (1945), quoted in Benkler, 2000, supra n. 30, p. 561.
70. Benkler, 2000, supra n. 30, p. 568.
71. Karen Fisher and Joan Durrance, "Information
Communities," in Encyclopedia of Community: From the Village to
the Virtual World, Karen Christensen and David Levinson, eds., vol.
4, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2003: 657-60; Joan Durrance, "The Vital
Role of Librarians in Creating Information Communities: Strategies for
Success," Library Administration and Management, vol. 15,
#3 (Summer 2001): 161-68; Joan Durrance, "Information Communities,"
72. Levine, 2002, supra n. 64, pp. 5-7. A report released in 2004 documents the world of online youth civic culture and the ways in which these Web communities are advancing young people's participation in politics and local affairs. Kathryn Montgomery, Barbara Gottlieb-Robles, and Gary O. Larson, "Youth as E-Citizens: Engaging the Digital Generation," Washington, DC: Center for Social Media, American University, Mar. 2004, http://www.centerforsocialmedia.org/ecitizens/youthreport.pdf.
73. Levine, 2002, supra n. 64, pp. 7-8; Friedland and Boyte, supra n. 2.
74. All URLs noted in the report were accessed in May 2004.
75. E-mail from Lewis Friedland to Nancy Kranich and
Marjorie Heins, Mar. 13, 2004.
76. The Democracy Collaborative, New Information Commons
Conference, Jan. 14-16, 2000, http://www.democracycollaborative.org/programs/public/
77. New American Foundation, http://www.newamerica.net. Along with lawyer and activist Gigi Sohn, Bollier also co-founded Public Knowledge, a nonprofit organization that represents the public interest in intellectual property law and Internet policies; see.http://publicknowledge.org.
78. Center for Digital Democracy, The "Dot-Commons" Concept, http://www.democraticmedia.org/issues/digitalcommons.
79. Swarthmore Coalition for the Digital Commons, http://scdc.sccs.swarthmore.edu.
This Web site hosted documents exposing problems with Diebold voting machines;
Diebold sued for allegedly violating the DMCA, but dropped the case in
December 2003. See Why War?, http://whywar.com/features/2003/10/diebold.html;
Electronic Frontier Foundation press release, "Diebold Backs Down,"
Dec. 1, 2003, http://www.eff.org/Legal/ISP_liability/OPG_v_Diebold/
80. American Library Association, Office for Information
Technology Policy, "The Information Commons, New Technology, and
the Future of Libraries Roundtable," Nov. 2001, http://infocommons.org/arch/1/issue1.html,
including papers by Howard Besser, "Commodification of Culture Harms
Creators"; David Bollier, "Why We Must Talk About the Information
Commons"; Jorge Reina Schement, "Imagining Fairness: Equality
and Equity of Access in Search of Democracy"; and Jonathan Tasini,
"Creators and the Information Commons." See also American Library
Association, Information Commons Project Working Group, "To Support
the Information Commons: Principles for an Effective Information Commons,"
81. Duke Conference on the Public Domain, Nov. 9-10, 2001, http://www.law.duke.edu/pdf. The conference papers, by James Boyle, Carol Rose, Charlotte Hess and Elinor Ostrom, and others such as the music group Negativland, were published in Law & Contemporary Problems, supra n. 49.
82. See American Library Association, Office of Information Technology Policy, Libraries and the Information Commons, Mar. 12-14, 2004, http://ala.org/oitp; Indiana University Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, http://www.indiana.edu/~workshop.
83. Boston Review, vol. 27, # 3-4 (Summer 2002), http://bostonreview.mit.edu/ndf.html#Market, includes a lead article by David Bollier, "Reclaiming the Commons"; and responses by Marcia Angell, "Public Health"; Robert McChesney, "The Place of Politics"; and Tom W. Palmer, "Common Property?",among others. American Association of School Librarians, Knowledge Quest, supra n. 67, includes articles by Bollier, "Saving the Information Commons," pp. 9-12; Daniel R. Lee, "Constructing the Commons: Practical Projects to Build the Information Commons," pp. 13-15; and others. International Association for the Study of Common Property, The Common Property Resource Digest, # 65 (June 2003), includes a lead article by Bollier, "The Missing Language of the Digital Age: The Commons," pp. 1-4; and responses by Hess, "The Information Commons and the IASCP," pp. 4-5; Nancy Kranich, "The Information Commons: From Metaphor to Reality," pp. 5-6; Markku Oksanen, "Response to Dr. Bollier: Towards a Copyleft?" pp. 6-7; Joseph Bahati, "Knowledge Banks for the Commons from the African Perspective," pp. 7-8; and Jennifer Jenkins, "Innovation in the Information Commons," p. 8.
84. The URL of the original website for Friends of the
Commons, http://www.friendsofthecommons.org, later became a porn site;
the correct URL is now http://onthecommons.org; see Peter Barnes, Jonathan
Rowe, and David Bollier, The State of the Commons: A Report to America's
Stakeholders on their Commonly Held, Government Managed Assets, San Francisco:
Friends of the Commons, Oct. 2003,
85. World-Information.Org Infopaper distributed at the World Summit on the Information Society, (Dec. 2003), http://world-information.org/wio/wsis, includes articles by David Bollier, "Preserving the Commons in the New Information Order;" Yochai Benkler, "The Political Economy of the Commons"; Peter Suber, "Open Access to Science and Scholarship"; and Eben Moglen, "Free Software, Free Hardware, Free Bandwidth."
86. See www.eff.org; http://www.democraticmedia.org; www.cdt.org;
http://www.publicknowledge.org ; http://www.ipjustice.org. The Rockefeller
Foundation funded a forum hosted by the American Library Association,
http://info-commons.org; the MacArthur Foundation has supported advocacy
at Public Knowledge, the ALA, http://www.ala.org/oitp, Harvard's Berkman
Center for Internet and Society, http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/cc, and
other organizations, and has provided start-up assistance for the Creative
Commons (see July 26, 2002 press release at ttp://fdncenter.org/pnd/news/story.jhtml?
87. E.g., "The Consumers, Schools and Libraries Digital Rights Management Awareness Act of 2003" (S. 1621), a bill sponsored by Sen. Sam Brownback, Sept. 16, 2003, to prohibit the FCC from mandating that digital media products include DRM; "Public Access to Science Act" (H.R. 2613), introduced by Rep. Martin Sabo, June 26, 2003; "Public Domain Enhancement Act of 2003" (HR 2601), introduced by Reps. Zoe Lofgren and John Doolittle, June 25, 2003; "Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act of 2003" (H.R. 107), introduced by Reps. Rick Boucher and John Doolittle, Jan. 7, 2003; "Benefit Authors without Limiting Advancement or Net Consumer Expectations Act of 2003" (H.R. 1066), introduced by Rep. Lofgren, Mar. 4, 2003; "Digital Consumer Right to Know Act" (S. 692), introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden, Mar. 26, 2003.
88. Lauren Gelman, "Reclaim the Public Domain Petition," http://www.petitiononline.com/eldred/petition.html. By the end of 2003, the petition was endorsed by close to 20,000 signatories, and the proposed legislation was introduced by Rep. Zoe Lofgren as the "Public Domain Enhancement Act of 2003 (H.R. 2601); see http://eldred.cc.
89. See http://www.publicknowledge.org/take-action/action-struggles-with-ip/view?searchterm=public%20domain%20stories.
90. The legal scholar David Lange asserts that the public domain is most usefully seen as a commons, which has been restricted by copyright term extension, privatization, licensing, DRM, and proprietary databases such as Lexis/Nexis. See David Lange, "Reimagining the Public Domain," Law & Contemporary Problems, supra n. 49; Yochai Benkler, "Free as the Air to Common Use: First Amendment Constraints on Enclosure of the Public Domain," N.Y.U. L. Rev., vol. 74 (May 1999): 354-64, http://www.nyu.edu/pages/lawreview/74/2/benkler.pdf; and the articles published in Law & Contemporary Problems, supra; and Knowledge Quest, supra n. 83.
91. See, e.g, Edward Sargent, "What is Open Source
Software?" Seattle: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mar. 24, 2003,
http://webjunction.org/do/DisplayContent?id=130; Yochai Benkler, "Coase's
Penguin, or, Linux and the Nature of the Firm," Yale L. J.,
vol. 112, #3, (Dec. 2002): 369-438, http://www.yale.edu/yalelj/112/BenklerWEB.pdf;
Ward Cunningham, "Wiki Design Principles," http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?WikiDesignPrinciples.
92. See Linux Online, http://www.linux.org.
93. See Linux on PDAs Web Site, http://www.linux.org/hardware/pda.html; Wiki Welcome Visitors Web site, http://wiki.org/wiki.cgi?WelcomeVisitors; What is Wiki?, http://wiki.org/wiki.cgi?WhatIsWiki.
94. See John Markoff, "The Coming Search Wars," New York Times, Feb. 1, 2004, §3, p. 1; "Google History," http://www.google.com/corporate/history.html.
95. See Red Hat, Open Source: NOW, http://www.redhat.com/opensourcenow/ intro.html; Sargent, supra n. 91; Samuelson, supra n. 32 ; Boyle, Law & Contemporary Problems, supra n. 66, p. 45.
96. "Sharing the Code: More Colleges and Universities See Open-Source Software as an Alternative to Commercial Products, Chronicle of Higher Education, Aug. 1, 2003, http://chronicle.com/free/v49/i47/47a03101.htm. Governments from Israel to the State of Massachusetts to the city of Munich are also mandating open source to save money; see Chris O'Brien, "Israel to Suspend Microsoft Buys: Government to Seek Open-Source Options," San Jose Mercury News, Dec. 31, 2003, http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/siliconvalley/7605219.htm.
97. See Todd R. Weiss, "LinuxWorld: A Defiant IBM
Says Linux Indemnification Is Unnecessary," Computerworld,
Jan. 21, 2004, http://www.computerworld.com/softwaretopics/os/linux
98. See http://www.globus.org.
99. John Quackenbush, "Open-source Software Accelerates Bioinformatics," Genome Biology, vol. 4, #9, (Sept. 2003): 336; BioInformatics.org, http://bioinformatics.org; Rob Carlson, "On the Parallels and Contrasts (Anti-parallels?) Between the Open-source Software Movement and Open-source Biology," Intentional Biology/Open Source Biology, Dec. 10, 2000, http://www.intentionalbiology.org/osb.html.
100. NASA/Ames Research Center, Clickworkers Project, http://clickworkers.arc.nasa.gov/top; NASA, Mars Exploration Rover Mission, Athena Student Interns program, http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/classroom/students/asip.html; Michael Szpir, "Clickworkers on Mars," American Scientist Online, vol. 90, #3 (May-June 2002), http://www.americanscientist.org/template/AssetDetail/assetid/14757; Thomas Goetz, "Open Source Everywhere: Software is Just the Beginning " Wired, vol. 11, #11 (Nov. 2003), http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/11.11/opensource.html.
101. Stephen Shankland, "Book Publisher Adopts Open-Source Idea," CNETNews.com, Jan. 16, 2003, http://news.com.com/2100-1001-981018.html?tag=cd_mh; Nancy Cohen, "Open Content: The Revolution in Publishing - Will Open-Source Evangelist Upset the Way Books Are Sold?" http://www.open-mag.com/features/Vol_49/Perens/Perens.htm.
102. Matthew Balmer, The Open Source Cookbook: Fuel for Geeks, Preview 5.0, 2003, http://www.ibiblio.org/oscookbook.
103. "About the Open Directory Project," Netscape Communication Corporation, http://dmoz.org/about.html.
104. Goetz, supra n. 100; Project Gutenberg News and Events, http://www.gutenberg.net/events.shtml.
105. See GNU General Public License, Version 2, June 1991, http://www.gnu.org/licenses/licenses.html (describing the GPL and other licenses available from the project); Goetz, supra n. 100.
106. Bollier, June 2003, supra n. 68.
107. http://creativecommons.org/learn/legal; see also Glenn Otis Brown, "Academic Digital Rights: A Walk on the Creative Commons," Syllabus, Apr. 1, 2003, http://www.syllabus.com/article.asp?id=7475; Richard Poynder, "Reclaiming the Digital Commons: Investigative Report," Information Today, vol. 20, #6, June, 2003: 33-35.
108. E-mail to Nancy Kranich from Neeru Paharia, staff member at Creative Commons, Jan. 26, 2004 ("we do know there are ~1,000,000 linkbacks to the licenses, so a million webpages have licenses on them. No one really knows how many people that represents, or how many discrete objects").
109. Suzanne Thorin, "Global Changes in Scholarly Communication," paper presented at e-Workshops on Scholarly Communication in the Digital Era, Feng Chia University, Taichung, Taiwan, Aug. 11-24, 2003, http://www.arl.org/scomm/Thorin.pdf; Richard E. Abel and Lyman W. Newlin, eds., Scholarly Publishing: Books, Journals, Publishers, and Libraries in the Twentieth Century, Indianapolis: Wiley, 2002.
110. See Association of College and Research Libraries,
Association of Research Libraries, and SPARC, "Create Change: New
Systems of Scholarly Communication," Washington, DC: Association
of Research Libraries, Oct. 2003, http://www.arl.org/create/resources/CreateChange2003.pdf;
Scott J. Turner, "Library Sees Red Over Rising Journal Prices: Dangling
Red Tags Are Marking Periodicals that Have One-Year Subscription Rates
of $1,000 or Higher," George Street Journal, vol. 24 (Mar.
10-16, 2000), http://www.brown.edu/Administration/George_Street_
111. See Association of Research Libraries, Issues in Scholarly Communication, http://www.arl.org/scomm/index.html.
112. Association of College and Research Libraries, "Principles
and Strategies for the Reform of Scholarly Communication," Chicago:
American Library Association, June 2003, http://www.ala.org/ala/
113. American Anthropological Association, AnthroSource: Enriching Scholarship and Building Global Communities, http://www.aaanet.org/anthrosource/index.htm; American Physical Society, "Transfer of Copyright Agreement," http://forms.aps.org/author/copytrnsfr.asc; see also "Open-Access Policy Statements by Learned Societies and Professional Associations," http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/lists.htm; Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, http://www.alpsp.org/default.htm; SPARC Open Access Newsletter, http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos.
114. Lund University Libraries, Directory of Open Access Journals, Lund, Sweden: Lund University Libraries, http://www.doaj.org.
115. Steve Lawrence, "Online or Invisible?" Nature, vol. 411, # 6837 (2001), p. 521, http://www.neci.nec.com/~lawrence/papers/online-nature01.
116. Peter Suber, "Removing the Barriers to Research: An Introduction to Open Access for Librarians," College & Research Libraries News, vol. 64, #2 (Feb. 2003) pp. 92-94, 113, http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/writing/acrl.htm; see also Gerry McKiernan, "Open Access and Retrieval: Liberating the Scholarly Literature," in David Fowler, ed., E-Serials Collection Management: Transitions, Trends, and Technicalities, NY: Haworth Information Press, 2004: 197-220, http://www.public.iastate.edu/~gerrymck/Open.pdf; Association of Research Libraries, "What is Open Access," Washington, DC, http://www.arl.org/scomm/open_access/framing.html#openaccess; David Prosser, "On the Transition of Journals to Open Access," ARL Bimonthly Report, # 227 (Apr. 2003): 1-3; http://www.arl.org/newsltr/227/openaccess.html; Walt Crawford, "A Scholarly Access Perspective," Cites & Insights: vol. 3, # 13, (Nov. 2003), http://cites.boisestate.edu/civ3i13.pdf; Paula Hane, "The Latest Developments in Open Access, E-Books and More," Information Today, vol. 21, #1 (Jan. 2, 2004), http://www.infotoday.com/IT/jan04/hane1.shtml.
117. For more information including open access journal business guides," see Budapest Open Access Initiative, http://www.soros.org/openaccess.
118. Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing," June 20, 2003, http://www.earlham.edu/%7Epeters/fos/bethesda.htm#institutions.
119. "Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge
in the Sciences and Humanities," Oct. 20-22, 2003, http://www.zim.mpg.de/
120. "Oxford U. Press to Experiment with Open Access,"
and "For OUP's Open Access Initiative, Success Comes One Step at
a Time," Library Journal Academic Newswire,
121. "One Small Step for Open Access, as OUP Experiment
Yields Positive Results," Library Journal Academic Newswire: The
Publishing Report (Feb. 19, 2004).
122. "Public Access to Science Act" (H.R. 2613),
introduced by Rep. Sabo, June 26, 2003; see also Miriam Drake, "Free
Public Access to Science - Will It Happen?" Information Today,
July 7, 2003, http://www.infotoday.com/
123. See Kurt Kleiner, "Free online journal gives
sneak preview," New Scientist.com, vol. 18. #18 (Aug. 19, 2003),
124. For more information about BioOne, see http://www.arl.org/sparc/core/index.asp?page=d3.
125. See http://pkp.ubc.ca/about/index.html; http://pkp.ubc.ca/program/
126. Hess and Ostrom, supra n. 49, pp. 144-45.
127. See http://www.openarchives.org. A registry of the more than 500 OAI-compliant repositories is available at http://gita.grainger.uiuc.edu/registry/ListAllAllRepos.asp.
128. Research Libraries Group and OCLC, "Trusted Digital Repositories: Attributes and Responsibilities," Mountain View, CA: Research Libraries Group, May 2002, http://www.rlg.org/longterm/repositories.pdf; see also Hess and Ostrom, supra n. 49, pp. 139-41.
129. Clifford A. Lynch, "Institutional Repositories:
Essential Infrastructure for Scholarship in the Digital Age," Portal:
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130. Paul Ginsparg, "Can Peer Review be Better Focused?" http://arxiv.org/blurb/pg02pr.html.
131. Los Alamos e-Print Archive, http://www.arxiv.org; Ginsparg, supra n. 130.
133. For more about EPrints, see http://www.eprints.org.
134. Interview by Nancy Kranich with Pennsylvania State University astrophysicist Samuel Finn, Nov. 27, 2003.
135. Sarah Stevens-Rayburn, "Summary of Presentation by Greg Schwarz at the Nov. 3-4 meeting of the AAS Publications Board," PAMnet posting, Nov. 13, 2003, http://listserv.nd.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0311&L=pamnet&D=1&O=D&P=1632.
136. Stevan Harnad, "Maximizing University Research
Impact through Self-Archiving," Montreal: U. of Quebec at Montreal,
http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Temp/che.htm; see also Stevan Harnad,
"Self-Archive Unto Others," University Affairs, Dec. 2003,
137. John Sexton, "The Role of Faculty in the Common Enterprise University," Presentation on the Occasion of the First Meeting of the Trustees Council on the Future of New York University, NY: NYU, June 12, 2003, http://www.nyu.edu/president/faculty.enterprise.
138. See http://depts.washington.edu/lcommons; "Announcing the Washington Digital Learning Commons," http://depts.washington.edu/lcommons/files/WDLC_brochure_pages.pdf.
139. "New Digital Initiatives Have Import For All
140. Philip Pothen, "Building a common information
environment," CILIP Library/Information Update, Jan. 18, 2004,
141. See Scott Bennett, Libraries Designed for Learning,
Washington, DC: Council on Library and Information Resources, Nov. 2003,
142. See Allison Druin, Benjamin B. Bederson, Ann Weeks, et. al., "The International Children's Digital Library: Description and Analysis of First Use," First Monday, vol. 8, # 5 (May 2003), http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue8_5/druin/index.html; Allison Druin, Glenda Revelle, Benjamin Bederson, et. al., "A Collaborative Digital Library for Children," Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, vol. 19, # 2, (2003): 239-48, ftp://ftp.cs.umd.edu/pub/hcil/Reports-Abstracts-Bibliography/2002-07html/2002-07.html. Supporters include the Library of Congress, National Science Foundation, Institute for Museum and Library Services, Kahle/Austin Foundation, Adobe Systems Inc., the Markle Foundation, and Octavo.
143. See http://www.digitalpromise.org; http://www.digitalpromise.org/
144. See BBC Press Release, "The on-demand world
is finally coming," Mar. 2, 2003, http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/
145. See http://www.abc.net.au/darwin/stories/s743379.htm.
146. See Thomas A. Finholt, Jerome F. Hajjar, Erik C. Hofer, and Andrei M. Reinhorn, "The Internet2 Commons: Supporting Distributed Engineering Collaboration," Syllabus Magazine, Jan. 1, 2004, http://www.syllabus.com/article.asp?id=8715.
147. Nancy Kranich, "Staking a Claim in Cyberspace: Ensuring a Public Place on the Info Highway," in The New American Crisis: Radical Analyses of the Problems Facing America Today, Greg Ruggiero and Stuart Sahulka, eds., NY: The New Press, 1995, pp. 195-200.
148. Charles M. Firestone and Jorge Reina Schement, Toward an Information Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, Washington, DC: The Aspen Institute, 1995, pp. 7-37.
149. The Association for Progressive Communications, APC Internet Rights Charter, http://www.apc.org/english/rights/charter.shtml.
150. A Manifesto for Online Communities, http://www.partnerships.org.uk/cyber/manifest.htm.
151. See http://www.greaterdemocracy.org; http://www.democraticmedia.org.
152. World Summit on the Information Society, Civil Society
Declaration, Shaping Information Societies for Human Needs,
153. American Library Association, "Principles for
the Networked World," updated 2001, http://www.ala.org/ala/washoff/washpubs/
154. American Library Association, 2002, supra