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For this year’s Wikimania (26-28 August, Buenos Aires) I submitted an abstract of a paper comparing transnationalization processes and community relations of Creative Commons and Wikimedia. In this series I present some work in progress.

A few days ago, Wikimedia, the organization behind Wikipedia and its sister projects, announced the results of its most recent community vote: All contributors who had made at least 25 edits to any Wikimedia project prior to March 15, 2009 were invited to vote on the proposal to license Wikimedia material so it is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license (CC-BY-SA), while retaining dual licensing with the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL). This proposal is in line with earlier statements of Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, who repeatedly stated that “Wikipedia, had it been founded after Creative Commons, would have certainly been under a Creative Commons license” (see, for example, his speech at an iSummit party in December 1 2007 in the video below) The proposal was accepted by a solid 75.8 % majority (see results page). Read the rest of this entry »

At the workshop „Mashing-up Culture: The Rise of User-generated Content“, which had been perfectly organized by Eva Hemmungs-Wirtén of Uppsala University in Sweden, Sigrid and I not only presented a paper on “The Copyright Dispute” (see resources page for paper and slides respectively), but I also had the great pleasure of meeting Niva Elkin-Koren. She is not only project lead of Creative Commons Israel but does very instructive research on copyright licensing and governance in the realm of digital communities (see SSRN-page for details).

One of her most recent papers, titled “Governing Access to User-Generated-Content: The Changing Nature of Private Ordering in Digital Networks”, is of particular relevance for scholars of transnational governance: Most of the new digital communities and their respective carrier platforms such as Facebook, YouTube or Wikipedia are “born globals”. Their regulation, be it (seemingly) unilateral via terms of service (see “Private Copyright Regimes: Facebook”) or multilateral via optional licensing (see, for example, Flickr), represents a form of transnational private ordering. At the same time, the pace of technological change and the blurring boundaries between the commercial and the non-commercial sphere make this field particularly promising for studying (collisions of) transnational governance regimes. Read the rest of this entry »

A lot of people – labor groups as well as compliance people – talk about empowering workers. In the Chinese context this often means educating people about their rights. This is usually done by training programmes. These training programmes have also become part of the demands of NGOs as well as company CSR rating agencies in Europe and the US, and therefore became the next step in the labour supply chain management agenda.

Whereas no big differentiations are made between training programmes, a whole industry is emerging in China, where consulting companies compete with buying companies’ own compliance programme and NGOs, offering a variety of different services. A recent study of the Sino-German Social Responsibility Project on training providers evaluated 29 providers, including nine international providers. Read the rest of this entry »

Three days ago, on May 5, the Economist started a week-long public debate under the headline “Copyright and wrongs: this house believes that existing copyright laws do more harm than good.” In his opening remarks, Kenneth Cukier gives the following rationale for hosting the debate:

Copyright strangles creativity. Copyright rewards originality. It is a nuisance to the public that unduly enriches a few people. It is the backbone of our knowledge economy that fuels progress. Hate it, love it, break it, protect it; few people lack strong opinions about copyright and its place in society.

As debaters, the Economist invited Harvard’s copyright critic William Fisher and Justin Hughes from Yeshiva University as an advocat of the prevalent copyright regime. While both present utilitarian arguments rooted in standard neoclassical economics for their oppositional claims – which, by the way, demonstrates how arbitrary mainstream economic reasoning can be -, the former also gives a short explanation for the, in his view, distorted development of copyright legislation in his first statement:

How did we get into this pickle? At least three intertwined causes seem to be at work. First, most recent adjustments in the copyright system have been spurred and shaped by interest groups that have stakes in expansion of copyright protection and that fail to take into account the interests of the public as a whole. Second, the multilateral intellectual-property treaties that now govern most countries establish floors, not ceilings. The result has been a ratchet: it is easy to increase the levels of legal protection, but hard to decrease them. Third, lawmakers are afflicted with the local maximum problem; they seek to alleviate problems by making modest improvements in the existing regime, unable to see across the valley to radically different approaches that would be much better. Read the rest of this entry »

As a newcomer to blogging who recently learned that series are particularly “in”,  I decided to start my own series as well. I’m travelling China right now as a researcher, trying to better understand what all the people I’ve talked to in Germany mean by managing labor issues in the supply chain, compliance systems, training arrangements, etc.; but also seeking to understand how labour groups deal with the issue, form their strategies or give up strategising around it.

I’ll share my impressions here, so forthcoming posts in the series will be about compliance management, worker training, management training and how labor groups try to deal with this issues (spoiler: there is a big difference between Hong-Kong-based and mainland-China-based, and you often simply cannot name it, activism).

I’m talking to all kinds of people here in China: consultants, compliance managers, labor NGOs; I’ve taken part in an audit, a manager and a worker training.  As this is China I’m writing about, the first thing people tell you is: There is always more than one truth in China…

How to become a compliance manager in one day

Auditing has become an important business in labour supply chain management. Seminars and training courses are offered all over the world on how to become a successful auditor. But, actually, it doesn’t take you more than a day. It means having an open eye for obvious problems which are often so similar that you almost don’t need to go into the factory to know about them. Read the rest of this entry »

The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
May 2009

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