Introduction to “intellectual contributions” theory, Nicholas Bentley

Nicholas Bentley sent us the following contribution, which he introduces as follows, to distinguish it from the General Public License and Creative Commons efforts:

The principle difference between what I propose and GPL/CC is that I recognise that most content probably is and needs to be in the common domain but at the same time I think authors should be paid. IC and the Rights Office proposes a system where every individual manifestation is in the commons, ie if someone has a copy they can consume it, but at the same time there is a rights structure backing it up so rights holders can also trade access. I feel that it is this business structure that is missing from the other schemes. The Indicare article has a section entitled ‘Contributions vs. other regimes’ that goes a little further.

Here’s the text explaining what IC is about:

Intellectual Contributions is a model that describes the production, exchange and trading of intellectual products such as books, music, film or software and defines the rights of all users to those products. It is argued that the contributions model provides a true understanding of the social exchange of intellectual works and that regulation of rights is better suited to supporting this exchange in the digital environment than any attempt to regulate copies as copyright has done in the analogue world.

The Intellectual Contributions model maintains that any new product is the sum of all the intellectual work that came before and goes on to broaden the scope of this contributions premise to include any support of the author’s work or promotion of the product. In the broad context of the contributions model there are many users: some contribute directly to the content (creators of pre-existing works, the authors and the editors), others contribute by way of the remuneration chain (distributors, reviewers and consumers).

Further, the contributions model recognises that it is the work of the author or artist that is the true private good (the exclusive property) in the chain of production of intellectual products and it is this work that needs to be encouraged and rewarded by any regulatory regime introduced by society. Copyright achieved this in the analogue world by granting the author the right to reproduce and distribute copies and since these copies were effectively private goods and the production of physical copies such as books were difficult and expensive to realise by private individuals the copyright system worked well and was mostly self regulating. However, this self regulating characteristic largely disappears, as do the private goods (copies), in the digital world when multiple copies can be made and distributed far and wide at the push of a computer button.

The contributions model suggests that a better way to promote new products is to continue to grant exclusive rights to the author and encourage others to support the author by allowing them to purchase/claim rights of access to the product thus registering their contribution to the work as a whole.

To implement this philosophy in practical sense the Rights Office system describes a distributed Internet system of secure databases (known as Rights Offices) that regulate these rights to the intellectual products. The significant feature of the Rights Offices is that they would be numerous and operate in a peer to peer fashion; different offices representing the rights of different users or groups of users. In this way ‘digital copyright’ becomes self regulating again because the rights of one user is always reconciled to the rights of a second (author and consumer say) by a dual registration in a pair of ‘peer offices’. In addition, every copy produced will have two unique identifiers attached to it that will, via the rights offices, anonymously identify the rights holders and the source of the intellectual product. In this way the entire intellectual product (ideas, concepts and expression) can enter the commons, anyone can access the product with valid identifiers, while the rights of those contributing to the work are firmly established. These established rights in turn allow for business models that encourage rights ownership and hence trade.

2 Comments Introduction to “intellectual contributions” theory, Nicholas Bentley

  1. Pingback: P2P Foundation » Blog Archive » Nicholas Bentley’s link recommendations on Intellectual Proprety

  2. Pingback: P2P Foundation » Blog Archive » Cooperative capitalism as an intermediary between the market and peer production?

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.