Open Systems/Access

From Internet Law Program 2011
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Session Overview

Tuesday, 11:30-1:00pm
Format: Lecture, followed by discussion
Lead: Yochai Benkler

This session will discuss the enormous benefits of open systems and address the ways in which openness at all layers of the networked environment can be achieved. Yochai Benkler will present a set of examples in which physical access, social production of content, and other forms of user creation and collaboration play a powerful role in supporting freedom and new forms of innovation. Skype will provide an illustrative usecase through which to explore these topics. From these examples, he will draw out how proprietary networks and standards (like mobile networks) differ from open ones (like TCP/IP, competitive infrastructure, free software, open standards, and free culture/content-based models). The case of WikiLeaks will provide a lens through which to view questions related to openness, access, and content distribution at different layers of the network.

Required Readings

The Wealth of Networks

Arab Spring

Evading Censorship


Google Voice Rejected from iPhone

Protect IP Act

Recommended Readings

The Berkman Center's Broadband Report

Related Case Examples

Related Videos


  • Yochai Benkler discusses the shift from the 150 year trend of concentration and commercialization of information production to the Internet's open, collaborative system of production.