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Home > News > COMMUNIA Conference 2009: Global Science & Economics of Knowledge-Sharing Institutions

COMMUNIA Conference 2009: Global Science & Economics of Knowledge-Sharing Institutions

di Redazione FGB [1], 22 Giugno 2009

The Second COMMUNIA International Conference entitled Global Science & Economics of Knowledge-Sharing Institutions takes place from Sunday 28th of June to Tuesday 30th of June 2009 in Turin, Italy.

As an introduction to looking at some of the implications of and for knowledge-sharing I would like to take a look at the COMMUNIA website [2] in general and at their forthcoming conference in Turin. They state in their introduction on their website that rapid advances in digital technologies and networks over the past two decades have significantly altered and improved the ways that data and information can be produced, disseminated, managed, and used, both in science and in many other spheres of human endeavour, and have created unprecedented opportunities for accelerating the progress of science and innovation. These developments are part of the emerging broader movement in support of formal and informal "peer production" and global dissemination of information by mobilizing the cooperation of distributed science and knowledge communities in open networked environments. Indeed, as increasingly recognized in the literature, the emerging economics of science in the digital environment can be seen as a complex mix of social sharing and exchange in communities of peers as a modality of production, along with public support and private appropriation as an incentive for translating research results into new commercial applications.

They go on to elaborate upon their goal to become a European point of reference for the theoretical analysis and strategic policy discussion of existing and emerging issues concerning the public domain in the digital environment and to promote the better understanding of the digital public domain in order to help all the relevant stakeholders develop appropriate policies related to economic and social issues, including for example the role of the digital public domain in allowing new business models to emerge - e.g. based on encouraging, rather than restricting, reproduction and dissemination of information-based goods - therefore producing growth and jobs across the EU. Strictly related to such understanding is the question of what are the proper policies to encourage such usage of the digital public domain. This involves the role of the digital public domain in ensuring a proper "access to information" for all EU citizens on all the matters that are relevant in their daily life, including - but not limited to - information on decision-making processes in the political arena, on environmental and health issues and on different cultures and their histories. A widespread access to such information, which is closely linked to the kind of policies that will be applied to the digital public domain, is vital for the European society to maintain its social cohesion and political peace in an historical moment where all citizens are confronted with unprecedented challenges. Obviously sensible policies on the digital public domain are absolutely necessary in order for it to achieve the objectives above while at the same time making sure that innovation flourishes.

COMMUNIA is coordinated by the Politecnico of Torino's NEXA Research Center for Internet and Society, started its activities on 1 September 2007 and will end on 31 August 2010.
Funded by the European Commission within the eContentplus framework, the 3-year long project expects to provide policy guidelines that will help each stakeholder involved - public and private, from the local to the European and global level, and also plans to build strategic relationships with other non-European countries (starting with the United States and Brazil, where two COMMUNIA members are located) in which similar policy discussions are currently underway.

And so to their second conference [3] that will address the conceptual foundations and practical feasibilities of contractually constructed "commons" and related bottom-up public domain initiatives (joint policy guidelines, common standards, institutional policies, etc.) capable of offering shared access to a variety of research resources, identifying effective models and salient needs and opportunities for effective initiatives across a diverse range of research areas as well as related topics, including alternative forms of licensing for creative material, open access to scientific publications and research results and management of works whose authors are unknown (i.e. orphan works).

The conference aims to bring together leading people from a number of international scientific research communities, social science researchers and science, technology and innovation policy analysts, to discuss the rationale, policy support and practical feasibility of arrangements designed to emulate key public domain conditions for collaborative research. Initiatives and policies have been proposed that go beyond "open access" to published research findings by aiming to facilitate more effective and extensive (global) sharing of not only data and information, but research facilities, tools, and materials. There is thus a need to examine a number of these proposals' conceptual foundations from the economic and legal perspectives and to analyze the roles of the public domain and contractually constructed commons in facilitating sharing of scientific and technical data, information and materials. But it is equally important to examine the available evidence about actual experience with concrete organizational initiatives in different areas of scientific and technological research, and to devise appropriate, contextually relevant methods of assessing effectiveness and identifying likely unintended and dysfunctional outcomes.
The speakers come from various walks of technical and academic life, from a Keynote Address by Bernt Hugenholtz Professor of Intellectual Property Law and Director of the Institute for Information Law of the University of Amsterdam to another by Klaus Gretschmann General Secretariat of the EU, Director General for Competitiveness,Research, Industry, Internal Market, Energy, Info Society and Transport.

This leads me on to copyright and Creative Commons [4]. As part of the Turin conference on 26th June Creative Commons are promoting the Creative Commons Technology Summit. [5]


Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that works to increase the amount of creativity (cultural, educational, and scientific content) in "the commons" -- the body of work that is available to the public for free and legal sharing, use, repurposing, and remixing. Their site explains their work and their philosophy. They provide free, legal tools that give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions to their creative work. The Creative Commons licenses enable people to change their copyright terms from the default of "all rights reserved" to "some rights reserved", allowing them to keep copyright while allowing certain uses of their work -- a "some rights reserved" copyright.


Without a doubt the use of these different forms of publishing raise some interesting questions, for example are two brains better for one? Could openly publishing one's work be the first step towards responsibility in that it allows others to see the effects of these future proposals? Are there also implications for participative democracy? Could knowledge and information sharing help to promote sustainable and responsible innovation? What are the legal and moral implications of others using and adapting someone else's work for their own purpose?

Bearing all of these questions in mind I would like to close with a remark made by my colleague Jeff Ubois [6] during the writing of this piece. When I raised the issue of the legal complexities of enforcing these types of licenses he replied that "copyright is not a friend of science".

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Link citati nell'articolo:

  1. 1] /schedabiografica/Redazione FGB
  2. 2] http://www.communia-project.eu/
  3. 3] http://communia-project.eu/conf2009
  4. 4] http://creativecommons.org/
  5. 5] http://creativecommons.org/weblog/entry/15095
  6. 6] /en/ubois/
CC Creative Commons - some rights reserved.
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Read also: Creative Common in FGB site
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