Law as the Invisible Architecture of the Commons

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= series of articles for Shareable magazine, conducted by Saki Bailey



Saki Bailey:

"So, from this perspective, law is a tool for lawyers, judges, legislators, and most importantly citizens, to wield against the market, to combat the inequities that it produces in its unfettered wake-both top down and bottom up. And law can be utilized beyond property, welfare, and finance law to other domains. Law can be used towards decommodifying our means of subsistence by guaranteeing access to fundamental resources that are crucial to human life, both top down, by naming things like healthcare, education, and housing (just to name a few) as a right, to which access should be guaranteed, but also from the bottom up, by changing the structure of property and contract entitlements, for instance to allow for simultaneous use of shared resources, and curb unrestricted transfer rights. Law can also be used to reorganize work away from wage labor and towards workers' ownership, by enacting through legislation the recognition of new legal entities like the Cooperative Corporation or the B Corporation that place non-market values at their center, or bottom up through the creation of workers cooperatives (a rapidly growing movement throughout the world). Law can also be used to alter the structure of intellectual property rights in ways that encourage sharing, collaboration, and innovation, top down by policymakers refusing to create certain kinds of property rights in these resources, but also bottom up through legal innovation and resistance through individuals adopting the Creative Commons license or "copyleft" policy over other proprietary forms of copyright.

In this new series on Shareable, "Law: The invisible architecture of the commons," we will showcase new and emerging legal institutions that offer an alternative system of incentives for encouraging cooperation, sharing, and sustainability. These legal institutions demonstrate how citizens, working together with lawyers and policymakers, can successfully design legal institutions for themselves to decommodify our access to fundamental resources, alter the wage labor relationship through new types of legal entities, and create new ways of stimulating ownership, innovation, and collaboration around knowledge goods." (