This Article examines 'peer production," a term coined and a concept explicated by Yochai Benkler. My own interest in peer production stems from its importance as a new form of user-generated content. User-generated content is particularly interesting if Benkler is right in his claim that the positive analysis of peer-produced content may have normative implications with respect to copyright law--in particular, the implication that copyright law may play a deleterious role in the formation and maintenance of this potentially significant new form of user-generated content. We are in need of a theory of collective action for the social world that is emerging in cyberspace. Benkler's theory of peer production makes an important contribution to this project. The present Article seeks to expand on Benkler's account by demonstrating that collective-action problems are not synonymous with the tragedy of the commons. In particular, one important type of solution to a collective-action problem of a sort not countenanced by Benkler is the convention or coordination norm. This Article will show that not only would a more comprehensive theory of collective action in cyberspace need to fit conventions into its account but also that even Benkler's examples of peer production must take account of conventions as well.
Steven A. Hetcher,
Hume's Penguin, or, Yochai Benkler and the Nature of Peer Production,
11 Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law
Available at: https://scholarship.law.vanderbilt.edu/jetlaw/vol11/iss4/8