Info-Communism: A Progressive Path Forward or a Political and Intellectual Dead End?

January 26, 2010

In the last decade, an intellectual and political movement has emerged both here in the United States and Europe to challenge exclusive property rights over informational goods and promote the concept of openness in communication-information policy. The movement goes by various labels: the “commons” movement; “free culture”; the “openness movement”. Among the goals of the movement include: free software, creative commons and other forms of resistance to copyright; opposition to software patents; and (in some cases) publicly-owned broadband networks and extreme net neutrality proposals.

Please join ITIF for a presentation by Syracuse University Professor Milton Mueller over the nature of the info-communism movement. Mueller will argue that while open-access commons and a widening public domain have many benefits, a pure info-communism is an intellectual and policy dead end, which ignores the many creative complementarities between property and commons regimes. Mueller will analyze the interaction of property and commons in information and communication and argue that we need to get to a more pragmatic discourse that treats certain critical resources as open access commons in some cases; while at the same time recognizing the benefits of markets organized around exclusive property rights in others.