Beyond good and evil: why open source development for peer-to-peer networks does not necessarily equal to an open society is as imbalanced as copyright law and definitely is not going to make you a better person

TitleBeyond good and evil: why open source development for peer-to-peer networks does not necessarily equal to an open society is as imbalanced as copyright law and definitely is not going to make you a better person
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsTsiavos, Prodromos, and Hosein Ian
Secondary TitleEuropean Conference on Information Systems (ECIS 2003)
Date Published2003
Keywordsbug reports, cvs, design documents, discussion, discussion forums, documentation, forums, gnutella, issuezilla, limewire, web site
Abstract

This paper interrogates the claims that open source development is an ideal form of regulatory development. We begin by presenting the literature that offers a framework of modalities of regulation where code, along with laws, markets, and norms shape and influence individual action. Within this framework, it is argued that for an Open Society we need Open Code. We present the processes through which the Gnutella protocol and the Limewire application are developed by deconstructing the mechanisms of participation and contribution of the individual developers. The techniques of monitoring, modularization and filtering that we identify appear to be inconsistent with open society promises. Instead we suggest a different framing, that of creating nests of interests, whose creators can find refuge from inhabitants of other nests. From that perspective, we suggest that we should stop referring to the war between Copyright and peer-to-peer networks as the battle between good and evil.

Notes

"In a first stage we collected data related to the development of the Gnutella protocol. The sources included: web sites that were used for hosting forums and file repositories related to the development of the protocol that could be either archived or still operational; messages posted on discussion groups, forums and newsgroups; the design documents of the Gnutella protocol.
In a second stage we gathered material related to the Limewire application. The sources included: operational and archived web sites having been used for the development of the application; applications such as Concurrent Version Systems (CVS) or Bug reporting tools (such as Issuezila), design and implementation documentation and relevant press reports.
The data gathered covered a time span from early 2000 to late November 2002."
"Other sources informed our research and also acted, at times of uncertainty, as forms of triangulation and verification (Lee 1991). These sources include websites such as Slashdot.org and WiredNews; IRC-mediated communications and private messages exchanged between the various developers."

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