Thursday, 11 April 2013

Yochai Benkler

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Yochai Benkler
Yochai Benkler speaking at UC Berkeley School of law in 2006
Born 1964
Occupation Professor, Harvard Law School
Director, Berkman Center for Internet & Society
Spouse(s) Deborah Schrag
Children 2
Yochai Benkler speaking at UC Berkeley School of law in 2006
Yochai Benkler (born 1964) is an Israeli-American professor of Law and an author. Since 2007, he has been the Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard Law School. He is also a faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.



In 1984, Benkler was the treasurer of Kibbutz Shizafon.[1] He received his LL.B. from Tel-Aviv University in 1991 and J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1994. He worked at the law firm Ropes & Gray from 1994-1995. He clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer from 1995 to 1996.
He was a professor at New York University School of Law from 1996 to 2003, and visited at Yale Law School and Harvard Law School (during 2002-2003), before joining the Yale Law School faculty in 2003. In 2007, Benkler joined Harvard Law School, where he teaches and is a faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Benkler is on the advisory board of the Sunlight Foundation.[2] In 2011, his research led him to receive the $100,000 Ford Foundation Social Change Visionaries Award.[3]


Benkler's research focuses on commons-based approaches to managing resources in networked environments. He coined the term 'commons-based peer production' to describe collaborative efforts based on sharing information, such as free and open source software and Wikipedia.[4] He also uses the term 'networked information economy' to describe a "system of production, distribution, and consumption of information goods characterized by decentralized individual action carried out through widely distributed, nonmarket means that do not depend on market strategies." [5]
Benkler's 2006 book The Wealth of Networks [6] examines the ways in which information technology permits extensive forms of collaboration that have potentially transformative consequences for economy and society. Wikipedia, Creative Commons, Open Source Software and the blogosphere are among the examples that Benkler draws upon.[7] (The Wealth of Networks is itself published under a Creative Commons license). For example, Benkler argues that blogs and other modes of participatory communication can lead to "a more critical and self-reflective culture", where citizens are empowered by the ability to publicize their own opinions on a range of issues. Much of The Wealth of Networks is presented in economic terms, and Benkler raises the possibility that a culture in which information is shared freely could prove more economically efficient than one in which innovation is encumbered by patent or copyright law, since the marginal cost of re-producing most information is effectively nothing.
Benkler coined the term 'Jalt' as a contraction of jealousy and altruism, to describe the dynamic in commons-based peer production where some participants get paid while others do not, or "whether people get paid differentially for participating." The term was first introduced in his seminal paper "Coase's Penguin, or, Linux and the Nature of the Firm." It is described in more technical terms as "social-psychological component of the reward to support monetary appropriation by others or... where one agent is jealous of the rewards of another." [8]
Benkler appeared in the documentary film Steal This Film, which is available through Creative Commons. He discussed various issues, including: how the changing cost structures in film and music production are enabling new stratums of society to create.[9]
Benkler is a strong proponent of Wikileaks, characterizing it as a prime example of non-traditional media filling a public watchdog role left vacant by traditional news outlets.[10] In a draft paper written for the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review in February 2011, he uses governmental vilification and prosecution of Wikileaks as a case study demonstrating the need for more robust legal protection for independent media.[11]
In August 2011, Benkler was a keynote speaker at the Wikimania conference in Haifa, Israel.[12] That same August,[13] Benkler's latest book on social cooperation online and off, titled The Penguin and the Leviathan: How Cooperation Triumphs over Self-Interest, was published. Benkler discussed this book at a lecture given at Harvard on October 18, 2011 [1].
Benkler contributed the essay "Complexity and Humanity" to the Freesouls book project, which discusses the human element in production and technology.[14]


See also


  1. ^ Benkler bio
  2. ^ Board and Advisory Board Sunlight Foundation, February 14, 2011
  3. ^ Yochai Benkler receives Ford Foundation Visionaries Award
  4. ^ Steven Johnson (September 21, 2012). "The Internet? We Built That". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-09-24. "The Harvard legal scholar Yochai Benkler has called this phenomenon 'commons-based peer production'."
  5. ^ Benkler, Yochai (2006). The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press. p. 3. ISBN 0-300-11056-1.
  6. ^ Benkler, Yochai (2006). The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-11056-1.
  7. ^ Benkler, Y. (2011). "The unselfish gene". Harvard business review 89 (7–8): 76–85, 164. PMID 21800472. edit
  8. ^ Benkler, Yochai (2002) Coase's Penguin, or, Linux and the Nature of the Firm. The Yale Law Journal 112(3): 429
  9. ^ Conflicts in cultural production
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Israel hosts Wikimania 2011
  13. ^ "The Penguin and the Leviathan: How Cooperation Triumphs over Self-Interest".
  14. ^ Complexity and Humanity, Yochai Benkler
  15. ^ Donald McGannon Award for Social and Ethical Relevance in Communications Policy Research from The McGannon Center
  16. ^ IP3 Awards Winners Announced from Public Knowledge
  17. ^ Press release March 2007 of Electronic Frontier Foundation
  18. ^ CITASA Book Award from American Sociological Association
  19. ^ Science, Technology, and Environmental Politics Section Don K. Price Award Winners from American Political Science Association
  20. ^ Twelve Social Change Visionaries Are Honored by the Ford Foundation

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