Cornell Law Review Volume 95 Issue 4

Discipline and Nourish: Construction Commons

Scholarship has examined many possible ways to encourage the creation and dissemination of art, works of authorship, ideas, and inventions: rights of exclusion (copyrights and patents), prizes, governmental subsidies, private subsidies (including both foundations and patronage), reputation, and so forth.  Legal scholars have long recognized that copyright and patent are not the only options.  And while some legal academics have mentioned the possibility of groups of users and creators interacting on a voluntary but structured basis, legal scholars did not give much sustained attention to such possibilities until fairly recently.

Historically, reference to self-help was rather limited and often confined to examining how, in the absence of exclusion rights, an entrepreneur or creator might benefit from lead-time advantage, customer loyalty, secrecy, or retaliatory strike editions to gain an advantage over competitors.  Then there was a revolution.  Self-help increasingly became identified not only with individual profit seeking but also with groups dedicated to cooperative creation.


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