A Governance Framework for Intellectual Property Rights
Chapter 1: Introduction: [Enter Stage] Information environmentalism
Information environmentalism is a normative discourse that seeks to protect and nurture the information commons. Protecting the information commons is important because within the information age it provides critical raw material for, among other things, creativity and innovation. As James Boyle has insightfully argued, there are strong similarities between the struggles to secure the integrity of the physical environment and efforts to preserve the integrity of the information environment. One similarity is the struggle to protect the commons – both physical and informational. In a seminal article, Boyle points out that the protection of the information commons will require ‘a successful political movement’. According to Boyle, this movement is to be founded upon ‘a set of (popularizable) analytical tools which reveal common interests around which political coalitions can be built’. This book concurs with Boyle, but rather than seeking to solely construct a politic, the core focus is to begin the task of constructing an information environmental governance framework. In doing so, the book builds upon four environmental analytical frameworks: (i) welfare economics, (ii) the commons, (iii) ecology, and (iv) public choice theory. Drawing on these analytical frameworks, the book probes whether the principles of environmental governance hold lessons for the construction of a governance framework for the information environment. In the twenty-first century it is Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) that have become the primary regulator of information. Contemplating IPRs through an environmental governance framework spawns several important questions.