Call for Participation

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Call For Participation

Free Culture Research Workshop 2009

Berkman Center for Internet & Society / Harvard University

(with additional support from the NEXA center at the Politecnico di Torino and iCommons)

The Free Culture 2009 research workshop builds on the enthusiasm generated by the First Interdisciplinary Research Workshop on Free Culture which took place during the 2008 iSummit in Sapporo, Japan. It presents a unique opportunity for scholars whose work contributes to the promotion, study or criticism of an emerging Free Culture, to engage with a multidisciplinary group of academic peers and practitioners, identify the most important research opportunities and challenges, and attempt to chart the future of Free Culture.

Our aim is to provide an opportunity for scholars and practitioners to discuss their findings, experiences, and vision for a Free Culture with peers whose backgrounds extend beyond individual disciplines, because we believe that the wider participation in the creative process (and consequently in the formation and dissemination of our modern culture) enabled by new Internet technologies, innovative legal solutions and new business models, are far-reaching and therefore deserve to be examined through the lens of multidisciplinary inquiry. More specifically, this year's workshop will be focused on:

(a) participant interaction and joint reflection on key findings from cutting edge research in the field

(b) the development of a research agenda, with the identification of key topics for future research

(c) facilitating research collaborations and exchange of ideas between different academic institutions engaged in Free Culture research

(d) fostering useful academic outputs over the next 12+ months

(e) considering policy recommendations or a policy orientation that may emerge as a result of Free Culture research and scholarship

Program design and participant selection will be guided by these objectives, as set by the organizing committee in consultation with the host institution. Venue

Harvard University Event format

The event will consist mainly of sessions oriented towards discussion and idea generation. The organizing committee will therefore strive to convene those parties that will be most helpful in engendering dialogue and providing perspectives on the future of free culture research. To that end we will do our utmost to convene academics and others who have already made an impact with their works and actions in shaping the landscape of free culture. An open call for short essays (similar in length to an extended abstract, for details see below) will complement this effort and provide opportunities for wider participation and discussion. Submitted essays will be reviewed by the program committee and the authors of accepted submissions will be invited to attend the event. We will only be able to accept a small number of participants through the open call given the small size of the event, and we seek your understanding in this respect. Every accepted essay will be disseminated before, during and after the workshop and will provide useful inputs for the structuring of the discussions and working sessions to take place during the event. However, we wish to emphasize that the focus this year will be on participant interaction and idea generation rather than on traditional podium presentation. Being invited to the workshop is therefore also not a guarantee that you will be able to present your own work, but rather an invitation to contribute your expertise and perspectives to the discussions and outcomes that the workshop will foster. Dates

   * Submission of short essays: Aug 9, 2009
   * Notification of acceptance: Aug 23, 2009
   * Event: October 23, 2009

Short essays

Interested parties should submit a short essay with a title and brief text (about 1,000-1,500 words) consisting of:

  1. A reflection on the main findings of the author's more recent work (from research, any type of scholarship, or practice, depending on the author's background) and how these relate to the topic of Free Culture.
  2. At most 3 key challenges arising from these findings that the participants of this workshop and/or relevant third parties could attempt to address during and/or after the event (remember, accepted essays will be posted online).

In the same document the author should include:

  1. References, if any, cited appropriately in the main document, in APA, BlueBook or ACM format (not included in the word limit)
  2. A separate paragraph explaining why this essay will be of broad enough interest and have the potential to generate interesting discussions during and after the event (not included in the word limit)
  3. A short bio of the author (not included in the word limit)

Given the discussion/working-session focus of the event we may not invite authors whose work may have academic merit but lack a clear fit with the objectives of the event. This also means that we do not encourage the submission of short essays that simply report on research findings, without establishing why a broader community of participants should care about the findings and what we can learn from them about the future of free culture research and practice. Forward-thinking and agenda-setting thought pieces (which should be clearly informed by one's own research or practice-related experience) will be preferred.

Note that if your submission is accepted through the open call we would expect that your home institution will assist with travel support and we will provide letters of invitation to that end, if needed. We especially encourage submissions from developing countries and will try to provide assistance where possible to participants from such countries. Note that there will be no ideological 'litmus test' of any sort applied to submissions, i.e. all viewpoints are welcome and submissions will be judged purely on their potential to generate interesting discussions and point to new research directions. We especially welcome critical voices. Topics

Even if we may not be looking for 'traditional' paper presentations this year, you may find it useful to look at this list of research topics that we are generally interested in:

   * Studies on the use and growth of open/free licensing models
   * Critical analyses of the role of Creative Commons or similar models in promoting a Free Culture
   * Building innovative technical, legal, organizational, or business solutions and interfaces between the sharing economy and the commercial economy
   * Modeling incentives, innovation and community dynamics in open collaborative peer production and in related social networks
   * Economic models for the sustainability of commons-based production
   * Successes and failures of open licensing
   * Analyses of policies, court rulings or industry moves that influence the future of Free Culture
   * Regional studies of Free Culture with global lessons/implications
   * Lessons from implementations of open/free licensing and distribution models for specific communities
   * Definitions of openness and freedom for different media types, users and communities
   * Broader sociopolitical, legal and cultural implications of Free Culture initiatives and peer production practices
   * Free Culture, Memory Institutions and the broader Public Sector
   * Open Science/ Research/ Education
   * Cooperation theory and practice, dynamics of cooperation and competition
   * Methodological approaches for studying the characteristics, history, impact or growth of Free Culture

Submission Guidelines

Short essays must be submitted by the given deadline for peer review. Submission entails a commitment that at least one author will attend the event in the case of acceptance. Also, authors grant the organizers the right to publish accepted submissions in the form of online proceedings or a similar format. In addition, accepted submissions will be automatically licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license, unless the authors explicitly state in their submission that they wish to opt out of this licensing agreement. We encourage authors to use said license in order to promote open access to scholarly work, although decisions to opt out will be respected and will not influence the review process in any way. In any case, authors of accepted essays cannot opt out from the basic condition that they grant the organizers the right to publish the essays online. Please submit your short essay in PDF, Word or plain text format at: (you will need an easychair account to submit, you can create one on the spot if you don't already have one). Organizing Committee

The organizing committee is tasked with setting the basic framework and agenda for this year's event, coordinating activities before, during, and after the event, and ensuring that the experience will be valuable for all participants.

   * Amar Ashar, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, USA
   * Yochai Benkler, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, USA 
   * Giorgos Cheliotis, National University of Singapore, Singapore
   * Juan Carlos De Martin, NEXA Center for Internet and Society, Italy
   * Terry Fisher, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, USA
   * Urs Gasser, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, USA
   * Lawrence Lessig, Harvard University, USA
   * Colin Maclay, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, USA
   * Elizabeth Stark, Yale University and iCommons, USA
   * Prodromos Tsiavos, London School of Economics, UK
   * Jude Yew, University of Michigan, USA (Review Process Coordinator, jyew AT umich DOT edu)
   * Jonathan Zittrain, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, USA

Academic Program Committee

The academic program committee comprises senior scholars, recognized thought leaders and some promising young scholars from around the world. Its main task will be to assist in the review of submitted manuscripts.

   * Bodo Balazs, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Hungary
   * Yochai Benkler, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, USA 
   * Giorgos Cheliotis, National University of Singapore, Singapore
   * Tyng-Ruey Chuang, Academia Sinica, Taiwan
   * Juan Carlos De Martin, NEXA Center for Internet & Society, Italy
   * Melanie Dulong de Rosnay, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
   * Terry Fisher, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, USA
   * Urs Gasser, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, USA
   * James Grimmelmann, New York Law School, USA
   * Herkko Hietanen, Helsinki Institute for Information Technology, Finland
   * Minjeong Kim, Colorado State University, USA
   * Mathias Klang, Lund University, Sweden
   * Karim Lakhani, Harvard University, USA
   * Ronaldo Lemos, Fundacao Getulio Vargas, Brazil
   * Lawrence Lessig, Harvard University, USA
   * Lawrence Liang, Alternative Law Forum, India
   * John Palfrey, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, USA
   * Wolf Richter, Oxford University, UK
   * Anil Samtani, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
   * Jan Philipp Schmidt, UWC/UNU-MERIT, the Netherlands
   * Elizabeth Stark, Yale University, USA
   * Victoria Stodden, Yale University
   * Alek Tarkowski, University of Warsaw, Poland
   * Anas Tawileh, Cardiff University, UK
   * Prodromos Tsiavos, London School of Economics, UK
   * Ariel Vercelli, Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, Argentina
   * Jude Yew, University of Michigan, USA
   * Jonathan Zittrain, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, USA


If you have questions about the event, or wish to be kept updated on this and related topics, please subscribe to the commons-research mailing list at:

You can then send your emails to and one of the organizers and/or other members of the list will follow up on your query.