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Author: Bradford Lee Eden
Title: Rishab Aiyer Ghosh's CODE: Collaborative Ownership and the Digital Economy
Publication info: Ann Arbor, MI: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library
September 2005

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Source: Rishab Aiyer Ghosh's CODE: Collaborative Ownership and the Digital Economy
Bradford Lee Eden

vol. 8, no. 2, September 2005
Article Type: Book Review

CODE: Collaborative Ownership and the Digital Economy

Bradford Lee Eden, Ph.D.

University of Nevada, Las Vegas Libraries

CODE:  Collaborative Ownership and the Digital Economy.  Edited by Rishab Aiyer Ghosh.  Cambridge, MA:  MIT Press, 2005.  x, 345 p.  ISBN 0-262-07260-2.  $37.95

The collaborative model of creativity has been going on for as long as humans have been able to communicate.  Open source software and the open source movement are just the latest developments in a long history of sharing, creating, and providing access to the continually-evolving world of information and resources.  The editor, one of the founders and the current managing editor of First Monday, the peer-reviewed Internet journal, brings together a number of contributors to address the issues of old and new forms of creative collaboration, the mechanisms emerging to study them, and a variety of perspectives from which to examine them.  Scholars from the fields of software development, law, anthropology, and economics, to name a few, discuss the issues of property rights, copyright, and the information commons, as it relates to the growing restrictions on creativity and knowledge in the burgeoning Web environment.

The book is divided into an introduction and three major sections.  Section 1 examines the concept of creativity and domains of collaboration; Section 2 discusses mechanisms for collaboration; and Section 3 deals with ownership, property, and the commons.  In the introduction, Ghosh provides the background on how the current open source movement intensifies the debate between intellectual property and creative collaboration.  Six chapters in Section 1 look at creativity and its domains.  Marilyn Strathern examines imagined collections and multiple authorship; James Leach provides some discussion on modes of creativity and the register of ownership; Fred Myers deals with some properties of culture and persons; Boatema Boateng examines the power struggles around cultural production and intellectual property frameworks; Anthony Seeger looks at how oral traditions, indigenous rights, and valuable old knowledge have been left out of the loop again; and Paul A. David discusses the topic of the institutionalization of open science.  The five chapters in Section 2 provide models and ideas for collaboration.  Cori Hayden discusses benefit-sharing and experiments in governance; Christopher Kelty examines ownership and identity focused on the collaborative stewardship of information; Rishab Aiyer Ghosh looks at cooking-pot markets and balanced value flows; Yochai Benkler ponders open source software applications for the future; and James Love and Tim Hubbard look at paying for public goods.  Section 3 contains four chapters that ponder the future and provide some concrete possibilities for the future.  James Boyle discusses the disappearance of the public domain; John Clippinger and David Bollier examine the new global identity and order that the Internet and the new sciences have created; Philippe Aigrain brings up the topic of “positive intellectural rights;” and Richard Stallman concludes by issuing a warning against the threats to networked knowledge posed by globalization.

Each chapter in the book contains its own notes and references.  Overall, this is a timely contribution on the hot topic of intellectual property, and how creativity in the digital age has produced some contentious debate on the role that intellectual property rights should play in today’s environment.