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Marco Berlinguer distinguishes 3 hybrid forms of commons-market cooperation and co-existence:

  1. the Semi-Commons
  2. Commons as Shared Infrastructures for Businesses
  3. Digital Commons as Core Ecosystem Strategy


Marco Berlinguer:

"Three concepts or configurations can help us analyze this hybridization between commons, markets and capitalist forms of organization within a synthetic framework. They represent rationales that may overlap, but that, separated, provide a means of distinguishing different logics and outcomes.

The first concept is that of the semi-commons. It was first proposed by Henry E. Smith (2000), who extrapolated it from an analysis of the medieval open-field system and applied it to modern communication networks. It is based on observations of how medieval common lands historically accommodated two kinds of activities—farming and grazing—and two different property regimes—the commons and private property—that existed at different scales or at different times throughout the year. The idea is useful insofar as it serves to highlight a two-tiered framework based on the coexistence of a double regime of property and economic exploitation within the same system of resources. The kinds of “open business models” that have been emerging around FOSS can be gathered under this heading. It clarifies how, on the one hand, the core value of the software remains a commons that cannot be exclusively appropriated. On the other hand, various forms of commercialization can be derived from it: the sale of services, support, certifications, packed distributions, the use of “freemium” models, the integration of additional proprietary software features, and the integration of the software with hardware and with complementary products (FLOSSmetrics 2010). There are important differences among these models, yet they all share the same two-tiered structure, which is organized according to two logics: a commons as a shared base, and the different markets that are generated on top of it. This two-layered structure also explains the cross-subsidizing base that funds the production of the “public good”."

(Berlinguer, M. (2020). Commons, Markets and Public Policy, Transform! ePaper, January 2020.)