The information economy is undergoing a period of fundamental change. These changes concern the ways information goods are owned and traded, and the ways they are regulated through public and private rules. Google Books, the unsuccessful but well documented attempt to reutilize the vast amount of out-of-print works, serves as an example to illuminate the ongoing transformation of information governance.
A central element of the ongoing transformation concerns access to digital works. Starting with the sale of software as a mass commodity in the 1980s, license contracts have begun replacing the traditional sale of information goods. Instead of purchasing an information artefact, users are now more often buying rights to use or the experience of goods. Carefully circumscribed terms and conditions, the fine print, form a crucial element in the commodification of access to information goods and, to a growing extent, substitute the transfer of property.
In their entirety, commercial licensing practices are aligning themselves to a contract-based regime. Embedded in an evolving mode of industry self-regulation, a whole new set of assets are in the making (the right to read, annotate, copy, share, modify, print…) that require close monitoring of users to unfold their economic potential.
Talk by Jeanette Hofmann, June 30th at 16:30, Track II
Jeanette Hofmann is a researcher at the Social Science Research Centre Berlin (WZB). Her research centers on transnational regulation, particularly on internet governance and intellectual property rights. She has participated in the UN World Summit on the Information Society and the Internet Governance Forum. She is also a member of the Enquete Commission of the German Parliament on internet and digital Society. Her current work focuses on Google Books and new ways of commodifying information goods.