Editors: Steve Collins, Macquarie University and Angela Daly, Swinburne University of Technology
The disruption caused by new technologies and non-conventional methods of organisation have posed challenges for the law, confronting regulators with the need to balance justice with powerful interests. Experience from the “disruptions” of the late 20th century has shown that the response from incumbent industries can lead to a period of intense litigation and lobbying for laws that will maintain the status quo. For example, following its “Napster moment”, the music industry fought to maintain its grip on distribution channels through increased copyright enforcement and the longer copyright terms it managed to extract from the legislative process. The newspaper industry has similarly seen its historical revenue stream of classified ads disrupted by more efficient online listings, and responded to its own failure to capitalise on online advertising by launching legal campaigns against Google News in various European countries.
Though the law as it stands may not be well-equipped to deal with disruptive episodes, the technological innovations of the last twenty years have created an environment that generates disruption. The Internet, the Web and networked personal computers have converged into the ubiquitous post-PC media device, leaving twentieth century paradigms of production, consumption and distribution under considerable threat. The latest technology to be added to this group of disruptive innovations may be 3D-printing, which in recent times has become increasingly available and accessible to users in developed economies, whilst the manufacturing capacity of 3D-printers has dramatically grown. Although current offerings on the market are far from a Star Trek-like “replicator”, the spectre of disruption has once again arrived, with the prospect of 3D-printed guns inspiring a moral panic and raising questions of gun control, regulation, jurisdiction and effective control. In addition, 3D-printing raises a number of issues regarding intellectual property, going far beyond the copyright problems that file-sharing brought about due to its production of physical objects.
This special issue of the Journal of Peer Production calls for papers that deal with the intersection of peer production, disruptive technologies and the law. Potential topics include, but are not restricted to:
– The threat posed by peer production to legacy industries
– The regulation of disruptive technologies through the rule of law or embedded rights management
– Lobbying strategies of incumbent players to stymie disruptive technologies
– Emergent economies or practices as a result of disruptive technologies
– Extra-legal norm formation in peer production communities around disruptive technologies
– Historical perspectives on the legal status of collaborative projects
– Critical legal approaches to technology, disruption and peer production
– The role and ability of the law (which differs across jurisdictions) in regulating autonomous production
– The resilience of law in the face of social and technological change
– The theories and assumptions which continue to underpin laws rendered obsolete by social and technological change
500-word abstracts are due by 15th November 2013 and should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Accepted submissions will be notified during December 2013 and full papers (approximately between 4,000 and 10,000 words) are due by 12th May 2014. All article submissions are peer reviewed according to JoPP review policies.