Governance of Massive Multiauthor Collaboration

Journal of Intellectual Property, Information Technology and E-Commerce Law, Vol. 1, No. 2, p. 96, 2010

13 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2010

See all articles by Dan Wielsch

Dan Wielsch

University of Cologne - Faculty of Law

Date Written: August 9, 2010

Abstract

Open collaborative projects are moving to the foreground of knowledge production. Some online user communities develop into longterm projects that generate a highly valuable and at the same time freely accessible output. Traditional copyright law that is organized around the idea of a single creative entity is not well equipped to accommodate the needs of these forms of collaboration. In order to enable a peculiar network-type of interaction participants instead draw on public licensing models that determine the freedoms to use individual contributions. With the help of these access rules the operational logic of the project can be implemented successfully. However, as the case of the Wikipedia GFDL-CC license transition demonstrates, the adaptation of access rules in networks to new circumstances raises collective action problems and suffers from pitfalls caused by the fact that public licensing is grounded in individual copyright.

Legal governance of open collaboration projects is a largely unexplored field. The article argues that the license steward of a public license assumes the position of a fiduciary of the knowledge commons generated under the license regime. Ultimately, the governance of decentralized networks translates into a composite of organizational and contractual elements. It is concluded that the production of global knowledge commons relies on rules of transnational private law.

Keywords: Networks, Governance, Collaboration, Multi-Author, Open Content, Open Source, Commons, Wikipedia, Access, Knowledge, Licensing, GPL

Suggested Citation

Wielsch, Dan, Governance of Massive Multiauthor Collaboration (August 9, 2010). Journal of Intellectual Property, Information Technology and E-Commerce Law, Vol. 1, No. 2, p. 96, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1655805

Dan Wielsch (Contact Author)

University of Cologne - Faculty of Law ( email )

Albertus-Magnus-Platz
Cologne, 50923
Germany

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