The Contemporary Commons Theory: A Debate in Modern Telecommunication Law
Apoorva Anubhuti & Rashmi Bothra
Volume 1 Issue 2 (2008)
The word ‘Commons’, traditionally has been used to connote the joint ownership of certain resources by the people. Such resources include gifts of nature and other ‘free’ resources like water, air and land. Today however, the concept of Commons has been given a new connotation so as to propound a movement that envisages more public participation in the management of things and systems other than just natural resources. In the legal realm, this translates into a movement for decentralization of law. In other words, it talks of decentralization of law from the realms of State domain to that of Public domain so as to bring in more public participation in the formulation and implementation of law. This is what is posited to be the central theme of the Contemporary Commons Theory. Of late the Commons theory has come into prominence primarily as a result of the effect of technology on State Power. Global Communications have greatly eroded the State Power. It is this failure of the State power that lays great promise for the Commons Perspective to Law which calls for a laissez faire vision to law, thus bringing about a “bottom –up” regulation by non- state actors. In other words, the Commons perspective calls for the freedom of private entities to generate their own law – i.e. the law of Google, or the Terms of Service imposed by MSN Online. The Commons Theory debate of today has been brought about by debates in the areas of Privatization of the Internet, Network Neutrality rules in telecommunication law, Propertization of the radio frequency spectrum and as as well on media concentration. It is these issues that will form the core focus of the research in the present context.