Political Economy of the Commons

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* Essay: The Political Economy of the Commons. By Yochai Benkler.

URL = https://dash.harvard.edu/handle/1/11363061 pdf


Michel Bauwens, reading notes 2005:

Benkler defines the Commons as an institutional space free from the constraints of the market, but governed by different constraints, in particular the absence of property.

He distinguishes four types of Commons, according to 2 parameters.

   - open commons vs limited access commons
       - open: air, highway systems, oceans
       - limited: traditional pastures, irrigation systems, subject to common property regimes

   - regulated vs un-regulated
       - non-regulated: intake of air
       - regulated: sidewalks and streets

Elinor Ostrom has most intensely studied the sustainability of the commons, as against the 'tragic' conceptions

Carol Rose makes the claim that resources that have increasing returns to scale on the demand side, like roads, i.e. have positive network externalities, are the most ideal candidate for such commons-based approaches. Commons are also most necessary for innovation, as incumbents try to restrain it.

YB sees 3 layers of conflict:

   - 1. ownership (physical layer)
   - 2. protocols (logical layer)
   - 3. content (IP regime)

Thus what we need to establish is a "Core Commons Infrastructure", consisting of:

   - a open physical layer, with open wireless networks, spectrum commons
   - a open logical layer, i.e. preference for open protocols and open platforms
   - a open content layer, i.e. we must roll back to restrictive IP legislation