Yochai Benkler

See also: Good Guys

Yochai Benkler (http://www.benkler.org/) was Professor of Law at NYU and is now at Yale (http://www.law.yale.edu/outside/html/faculty/yb32/profile.htm).

As the author of Coase’s Penguin, or Linux and the Nature of the Firm (http://www.benkler.org/CoasesPenguin.html), he has recently become well known amongst the free software and open-source community.

His central argument in Coase’s Penguin is that ‘commons based peer production’ is more efficient than prior forms of production and that in order for this to expand there needs to be less, not more, copyright and patent law. He cites web sites such as Wikipedia and Slashdot as examples of peer production.

Benkler coined a mode of analysing the communications infratsructure that has become popular amongst other critics such as Eben Moglen, and Lawrence Lessig. In his view, the network can be understood as operating on three layers:

  1. Physical layer (Cable, wireline)
  2. The logical layer (software and standards for interoperability)
  3. The content layer (music, text, audiovisual works)

Benkler argues that in order for communicative freedom to have substance, and for human beings to enjoy informational autonomy, commons spaces for public use and exchange must be established at each level.

His web site (http://www.benkler.org/) has a list of his publications (http://www.benkler.org/Pub.html).

In addition he was head of two research groups in NYU: the Information Law Institute (http://www.law.nyu.edu/ili) and the Engleberg Center for Innovation Law and Policy (http://www.law.nyu.edu/engelbergcenter/).

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