Information commons and global democratic capabilities

Philippe Aigrain

Philippe Aigrain is the CEO of Sopinspace, Society for Public Information Spaces, a company developing free software tools and providing commercial services for collaboration and participatory democracy using the Internet. He is an information and knowledge commons advocate, author of several books on commons and property and new sharing-compatible financing models for cultural and public expression activities.

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5 Responses

  1. The role of an internet-based and high-technology information and knowledge commons in the Arab world in particular and the Middle East generally is analogous to the historical role of coffeehouses, salons, reading societies, the republic of letters, scientific academies and other modes of association in the formation of the Enlightenment’s “bourgeois public sphere” (Habermas) that was, in principle, and in spite of its class-based genesis, “inclusive:” in both cases we discern an incontrovertible contribution to the genesis of an institutionalized public sphere which “problem[tizes]…areas that…[heretofore] had not be questioned.” Once again, we witness the “structural transformation of the public sphere.”

  2. erratum: problema[tizes]…

  3. A.J. Sutter says:

    It would be interesting to hear something about the thesis of your book – you are perhaps being too modest to speak only about its diffusion. Also, is A2K the only school in Europe of heterodox thought about intellectual property? Could you please give us a brief panoramic view of the Continental intellectual terrain when it comes to dissenters from the Anglo-Saxon/WIPO/TRIPS vision?

  4. To A.J. Sutter: Access to Knowledge is not an endogeneous European name for federating the movements for IP reform and promotion of knowledge sharing. The appellation was proposed within the coalitions of NGOs and think-tanks federated around the Geneva Declaration for the Future of WIPO (2004). The former Consumer Project on Technology (now Knowledge Ecology International) played an important role. It was gladly accepted by European participants, though everyone was conscious that it did not represent some of the ambitions of our global movements. Testimony was the difficulty to translate “access to knowledge” in Latin languages for instance. In Europe, it is fair to say that “information and knowledge commons” and “information, culture, and knowledge sharing” are at least equally important federating terms. They carry a potential for federating schools of thought and movements beyond IP reform, with a more visible focus on alternatives, and a “beyond access” emphasis. They also create explicit link with environment and social justice, or capability building. None of this is in contradiction with the intentions of the promoters of A2K (quite the contrary). It is just different words for different arenas. In parallel, movements emphasizing freedom (or copy, use and reuse) are strong in Europe and maybe more structured towards activism and advocacy: free software, free culture, Internet freedoms (Chaos Computer Club,European Digital Rights,La Quadrature du Net).

    As for the book referred to in my post, you will find some information in English about its content at However, the reference to it was mostly to illustrate how open access opens new paths in the exchange of ideas.

  5. Philippe,

    I’ve passed your name on to a law professor here in the U.S. who is also a publisher, so perhaps we can get this book published in English.