Tailoring copyright to social production

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The prevalence of social production and the increase in User Generated Content (UGC) destabilize some of the fundamental premises of our current copyright law. Copyright law is primarily designed to regulate the relationships of a single owner with other non-owners and is focused on the sovereignty of the author/owner. Social production, by contrast, requires us to articulate a matrix of relationships between the individual, the facilitating platform and the communities and crowds involved in social production. The transition from industrial production to social production transforms the social relations associated with the production of content and therefore requires adjustment of the institutions that design such relations. This Article closely examines the social dimension of content production and analyzes the consequences for the governance of content in the social web. The Article proceeds as follows: Part I describes social production and analyzes the implications for the stakeholders involved. I focus on three key features of social production which affect why we create, how we create, and what assets are generated by the process of creation. Part II explains why social production might be incompatible with the current copyright regime. In particular, I argue that copyright law mainly defines rights against strangers and fails to provide a framework for managing the rights and interests within a gigantic group of collaborators. Furthermore, the exclusivity offered by copyright law may undermine social motivation and collaborative production. Finally, in Part III, I outline some of the challenges for legal policy.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number11
Pages (from-to)309-347
Number of pages39
JournalTheoretical inquiries in law
Issue number1
StatePublished - 3 Jan 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Law


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