Governance of Massive Multiauthor Collaboration – Linux, Wikipedia, and Other Networks: Governed by Bilateral Contracts, Partnerships, or Something in Between?
Open collaborative projects are
moving to the foreground of knowledge production.
Some online user communities develop into longterm projects that generate a highly valuable and at
the same time freely accessible output. Traditional
copyright law that is organized around the idea of a
single creative entity is not well equipped to accommodate the needs of these forms of collaboration. In
order to enable a peculiar network-type of interaction
participants instead draw on public licensing models
that determine the freedoms to use individual contributions. With the help of these access rules the
operational logic of the project can be implemented
successfully. However, as the case of the Wikipedia
GFDL-CC license transition demonstrates, the adaptation of access rules in networks to new circumstances raises collective action problems and suffers
from pitfalls caused by the fact that public licensing is
grounded in individual copyright.
Legal governance of open collaboration projects is a
largely unexplored field. The article argues that the license steward of a public license assumes the position of a fiduciary of the knowledge commons generated under the license regime. Ultimately, the
governance of decentralized networks translates
into a composite of organizational and contractual elements. It is concluded that the production of global
knowledge commons relies on rules of transnational