Information Environmentalism
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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’.
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Chapter 11: Control, alt, delete: Towards an information environmental governance framework

Robert Cunningham


A core task of the book has been to address the following research question: Is there utility in applying environmental analytical frameworks to Intellectual Property Rights (particularly copyrights and patents)? The answer to this question is yes. We have observed throughout the book how viewing the information environment through the lens of environmental analytical frameworks proffers important and unique insights for information regulation. These insights are best appreciated by reflecting upon the overall content of the book, which is the core focus of this concluding chapter. Despite the various layers of complexity explored within the book, the application of each of the environmental analytical frameworks to IPRs can be surmised relatively succinctly. Applying welfare economics in Part I underscored the need to conduct a social net product analysis so the private and public costs and benefits of the IPR system are taken into account in the evaluation of whether IPRs foster creativity and innovation for the public benefit. Applying the commons to IPRs in Part II highlighted the significance of delineating parameters of the information commons and reconciling the information commons with private property dimensions of IPRs. The application of ecology to IPRs in Part III involved drawing upon a range of ecological governance principles such as methodological interrelationalism, resilience, diversity and modularity. These governance principles provided the springboard for a host of normative claims such as the creation and maintenance of an information environment ethic, Information Commons Rights and informational national parks.

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