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Contextual Quote

"Without proper structures, the initial production costs of digital goods cannot be covered, disincentivizing the creation of these goods. Hence, the prevalent mechanisms have relied on creating artificial scarcity, limiting the availability of the goods through legislation or technology, thereby leading 1) to, per se, lesser efficiency due to some parties not receiving a copy of the product and 2) to increased enforcement and technology cost."

- Ville Eloranta et al. [1]



= occurs when the sharing the production of the good by one person increases the value of the good to others.

- Mark Cooper [2]

(in contrast inclusiveness refers to the fact that increased use of the good increases the value to others)


the "property characterizing goods (or processes of production) where the use of the (produced) good by one individual enhances the use by the others."

- Ignacio de Castro


Steve Weber:

"Software in many circumstances is more than simply nonrival. Operating systems like Linux in particular, and most software in general, actually are subject to positive network externalities. Call it a network good, or an antirival good (an awkward, but nicely descriptive term). In simpler language, it means that the value of a piece of software to any user increases as more people use the software on their machines and in their particular settings

The point is that open source software is not simply a nonrival good in the sense that it can tolerate free riding without reducing the stock of the good for contributors. It is actually antirival in the sense that the system as a whole postively benefits from free riders.

The twist is this: Under conditions of anti-rivalness, as the size of the Internet-connected group increases, and there is a heterogeneous distribution of motivations with people who have a high level of interest and some resources to invest, then the large group is more likely, all things being equal, to provide the good than is a small group." (


Ignacio de Castro:

"I am aware that this is Weber´s definition, however I think that it is arguable that the definition could be improved:

Considering antirivalry as the opposite to rivalry, and parting hence from rivalry definnition.

"A purely rival good has the property that its use by one firm or person precludes its use by another; a purely nonrival good has the property that its use by one firm or person in no way limits is use by another" ( Wikipedia definition ( emplois the term "consumption" instead of "use": "Rival goods are goods whose consumption by one consumer prevents simultaneous consumption by other consumers[1]". Rivalry refers to use/consumption and, directly, has nothing to do with value (as far as I know).

The opposite term, antirivalry, should imply that " its use by one firm or person ENHANCES its use by another". From variations in the value of the good (to others) when the sharing of the production increases it does not necessarily follow that there are variations in the access to the use/consumption of the good by the rest of individuals.

I would tentatively define antirivalry as the "property characterizing goods (or processes of production) where the use of the (produced) good by one individual enhances the use by the others." It can be argued from this definition that the use of the good by one person increases the production of that good, or that -as in Weber (2004)´s definition, that the sharing of the production increases the value of the good, but both are only a sufficient condition for antirivalry defined as the opposite of rivalry." (email July 2010)

Symbiotic and Networked Anti-Rival Common Goods Challenge Our Current Value Regime

"Making the markets to work efficiently for the so-called anti-rival goods may require a radical departure from our current established thinking. In particular, since data cannot be easily enclosed and since data may gain more value as it is used and combined with other data, data and other anti-rival goods do not easily fit into the fourfold division of goods to private, public, club/toll and common-pool goods. Hence, it has been suggested to extend the fourfold model with network goods and symbiotic goods; In Ostrom's (2009) Institutional Analysis and Design (IAD) terms, it appears that the subtractability of goods may be negative. Weather such goods should be called anti-rival or not is still being argued.

While other potentially anti-rival goods, such as textual knowledge and copyrightable works have existed for a while, their distribution has been bound to rival media, such as books or records, until recently. Digital technologies have arguably led to (almost) zero marginal cost of both copying and even producing such information. For example, for many major digital platforms, the most valuable data may be considered as a by-product.

Furthermore, from an accounting, governance, and compensation point of view, the so-called distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) seem to provide a new way to accounting, securing transactions, and triggering actions. This allows one to design and efficiently implement new governance models and perhaps new ways to quantify value, i.e. introducing new units of account that are non-linear. In particular, we have surmised that to efficiently clear the markets of anti-rival goods, it may be necessary to create new market structures (Nikander & Elo, 2019). In more generic terms, it has been suggested to move from the current annual or monthly double entry accounting to more real time practices (such as using xBRL ) or to use DLTs and 1 other means to establish triple entry bookkeeping (Ijiri, 1989; Skole-Sorensen, 2016)." (email, November 2019)

Anti-rival goods and systems

Esko Hakanen et al. :

"For decades, economists and other scholars have differentiated between rival and nonrival goods. The basic principle is that rival goods lose value when consumed, whereas nonrival goods may be used repeatedly, without a loss of value (ATARCA, 2022). In Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom’s terms (2005), the value of rival goods will be subtracted upon use, meaning that their subtractability is positive. In contrast, several indications have been made that many digital or information goods have an “anti-rival” nature (Kubiszewski et al., 2010; Olleros, 2018). They differ from rival goods as anti-rival goods gain value when used, making their subtractability negative. Thus, the underlying economic principles for anti-rival goods are fundamentally different (ATARCA, 2022). Contradicting the traditional economic thinking on rival resources, which lose value upon use, anti-rivalry focuses on the repeated and expansive use of resources (Weber, 2004). Following Weber (2004), we call these anti-rival goods and the incentive and accounting mechanisms that encourage value creation through anti-rival resource sharing anti-rival systems.

Anti-rival goods can be divided into

  • “network goods,” whose subtractability is negative, typically due to network effects, but that are excludable, and
  • “symbiotic goods,” whose subtractability is negative and that are non-excludable (Nikander et al., 2020).

Notably, both subtractability and excludability are scales. Also, in many cases, the infrastructure on which the resources are handled affects the anti-rival properties of a good: e.g., if a sharing system has a significant transaction cost, a good loses its anti-rival characteristic (Olleros, 2018). Of course, there are already several kinds of economic structures that are not based on exchangeability. For example, trust and interpersonal (and interorganizational) relationships can be used to organize anti-rival resources in small-scale communities (Barbrook, 1998; Ghosh, 1998). Large institutions can also set open-access policies for example in publicly funded research. Moreover, open-source software development has for decades been successful in facilitating anti-rivalry through collective efforts toward a shared goal (Weber, 2004). However, the mentioned alternative systems have not been without limitations. The systems have either remained on a small-scale (based on interpersonal trust or an agreement of a limited set of actors), relied on institutional power (public funding or policies), or fitted for only some specific context (like open-source software). While there have been efforts in externalizing these structures for more large-scale and mainstream use, such efforts are predominantly prone to the so-called tragedy of commons (Hardin, 1982): failures of collective action happen when the participating entities use up a common resource for their individual gain, resulting in negative externalities and diminishing returns to everyone due to resource overconsumption (Greco & Floridi, 2004; Ostrom, 1990). Clearly, such alternative economic systems have not comprehensively resolved all of our economic systems’ limitations."


More Information

  1. Inclusiveness
  2. Nonrivalry; Rivalry
  3. Nonexcludability
  4. Property, Common Property, Collaborative Goods