Internet-Based Commons of Intellectual Resources: An Exploration of their Variety

In Jacques Berleur, Markku I. Nurminen & John Impagliazzo (eds.), IFIP; Social Informatics: An Information Society for All? In Remembrance of Rob Kling Vol 223. Springer (2006)
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During the two last decades, speeded up by the development of the Internet, several types of commons have been opened up for intellectual resources. In this article their variety is being explored as to the kind of resources and the type of regulation involved. The open source software movement initiated the phenomenon, by creating a copyright-based commons of source code that can be labelled `dynamic': allowing both use and modification of resources. Additionally, such a commons may be either protected from appropriation (by `copyleft' licensing), or unprotected. Around the year 2000, this approach was generalized by the Creative Commons initiative. In the process they added a `static' commons, in which only use of resources is allowed. This mould was applied to the sciences and the humanities in particular, and various Open Access initiatives unfolded. A final aspect of copyright-based commons is the distinction between active and passive commons: while the latter is only a site for obtaining resources, the former is also a site for production of new resources by communities of volunteers (`peer production'). Finally, several patent commons are discussed, which mainly aim at preventing patents blocking the further development of science. Throughout, attention is drawn to interrelationships between the various commons.

Author's Profile

Paul B. De Laat
University of Groningen


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