Cultivating the commons

[2005-08-01 14:57:03]

Since Homesteading the Noosphere, I consider the analogy between OSS and natural ressources as being quite excellent. In The Commons Doesn't Have a Business Plan, Andy Oram add more economical meat to the analogy:

The commons used to be a grassy area in the center of town where anyone could graze animals. Now it's a metaphor for anything available to everyone without restriction. Andy Oram argues that this is the ground from which new businesses spring--and that open source and free software are the wellspring for new software and technology.

More over, he also argues about how the noosphere ecology, the ideas ressources, is endanger by our current business practices:

The threat most resembling the classic tragedy is a fencing off of the commons, a predatory and premature division of its goods among private owners. This indeed can starve the commons.

He points out the fact that all new ideas share a good part of commons, which bring to imply that some restriction must be made on what can be considered as own by someone else:

The creator of a new work should not be allowed to monetize it completely, because it owes its existence to the commons and contains part of that commons. The new work is a shared achievement--shared between the individual who added his or her personal touch and the community in which it arose--so both sides must respect each other. This means the public must allow the creator a fair reward, and the creator must allow a certain amount of reuse by the public. Copyright is a short-term monopoly meant to encourage new works, and it was recognized as such by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations.

FOSS is, in my opinion, the only good way to ensure innovations will continue to grew around the world. It's an acknowledgement to the common heritage we share with all other people. This idea can be seen as communistic but it is not. It's an ecological and humble idea: the one similar to the common knowledge that one shouldn't eat the hand who feed him. By its false hubris of thinking they are the only creator of their work, the business practice regarding IP just do the reverse, isolating itself to death of any creativity. They will only find it when they will see that they cannot create anything without infriging each other ideas.