This thesis examines the moral significance of the intellectual commons and proposes appropriate modes for their regulation with the aim of accommodating their social potential. In the course of exploring their normative aspects, the thesis proceeds successively by analysing (i) the ontological characteristics of the intellectual commons, (ii) the relevant literature concerning their potential and interrelation with capital, (iii) the ways that they been shaped by law across history, (iv) their circuits of value, and (iv) their elements which bear moral significance. The thesis concludes by outlining the fundamentals of a normative theory for the intellectual commons.
The thesis offers an overall analysis of the intellectual commons with the aim of grounding a holistic normative theory for their regulation by the law. The ontological part of the thesis examines the elements, characteristics, tendencies and manifestations of the intellectual commons and their potential for society from the perspective of processual ontology. Furthermore, its methodological part presents the main theories of the intellectual commons from the prism of critical epistemology and sketches out their divergent approaches on the relation between the intellectual commons and capital. In addition, its historical part exhibits the historical evolution of the cultural commons and their interrelation with law and society. Accordingly, the thesis features extensive social research concerning the ways that social value is generated, circulated, pooled together and redistributed within and beyond the communities of the intellectual commons and concerning the dialectics between commons-based and monetary values. The final normative part of the thesis analyses the moral dimension of the intellectual commons. Throughout its analysis, the thesis adheres to the methodological choices of critical theory.
The thesis demonstrates that the intellectual commons are a social regime for the regulation of intellectual production, distribution and consumption, which bears moral significance. The contemporary formations of the intellectual commons feature elements of inherent moral value, have the potential to produce outcomes of net social benefit and underpin freedom, justice and democracy in ways, which justify their protection and promotion by the law. Morality thus requires the enactment of an independent body of statutory rules to protect the intellectual commons from encroachment by private enclosures and to promote commons-based practices in the form of a non-commercial sphere of creativity and innovation in all aspects of intellectual production, distribution and consumption.