Information Environmentalism

Information Environmentalism

A Governance Framework for Intellectual Property Rights

Robert Cunningham

Information Environmentalism applies four environmental analytical frameworks – ecology, ‘the commons’, public choice theory, and welfare economics – to the information environment. The book neatly captures the metaphorical relationship between the physical environment and the information environment by alluding to the environmental philosophy of ‘social ecology’ and the emergent informational discourse of ‘cultural environmentalism’.

Chapter 10: Constitutional economics and the separation of (economic) power

Robert Cunningham

Subjects: economics and finance, law and economics, law - academic, intellectual property law, law and economics


In the last chapter we began to see that social production can complement the political activities of civil society organisations. This perspective was based on the premise that while the political advocacy of information environmental civil society organisations is an important aspect of protecting the information commons, political organisation alone is unlikely to suffice. In this chapter we will observe that beyond overcoming collective action problems, social production can also be leveraged to operationalise the proposed separation of (economic) power doctrine. Economic efficiencies and comparative advantage of social production are critical here, as is the competitive tension between the alternate productive forces of the state, the market, the firm and society. After outlining constitutional economics generally, the chapter will highlight the decentralising characteristics of constitutional constraints such as federalism and the separation of powers doctrine. The focus will then turn to contrasting the alternative production modes being state-, market-, firm- and social-based production. In the process, the concluding submission from the preceding chapter is reinforced: in discrete circumstances social production may surpass the advantages of alternate production modes. In discussing the comparative advantage of social production we will see that such an advantage relies upon the fulfilment of two vital prerequisites (as per principle 10 of Table 1.1), being equitable access to (i) the information commons, and (ii) critical hardware infrastructure. Buchanan and Tullock published The Calculus of Consent in the early 1960s, giving rise to public choice theory.

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