The Many Faces of the Public Domain
Edited by Charlotte Waelde and Hector MacQueen
Chapter 10: The Public Domain and the Economist
Manfredi M.A. La Manna 1 Introduction The initial brief for this chapter – to examine from an economist’s perspective the triad of open access, open science and open source – was daunting in two different ways. First, there is now an economics literature on this triad large and varied enough to make a survey article barely feasible within the space constraint and thus ultimately unsatisfactory, as interesting policy issues and personal experiences would have to be left out. Secondly, the public domain is an area where economists tread very carefully and rather uncomfortably, as they have to walk (or is it surf?) without the aid of some of their most trusted points of reference, such as well-defined property rights and individual incentives. I have thus redefined my brief, confining it to the examination of the relationship between the public domain and scholarly and scientific communication with special reference to one case-study which throws up interesting questions on the wider issues of open access, open science and open source: the case of economics journal publishing. 2 The Web and the dissemination of research output: a perfect match? A key feature of ‘research output’ that distinguishes it from the rest of the material available on the Internet is that any piece of research, in order to qualify as proper ‘output’, has to go through a well-defined process of quality control and certification: the peer review mechanism. Although readers of this book are probably well acquainted with the concept, it may be useful to take...
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