Monday, November 14, 2005
Contracts scholars, as Lon Fuller demonstrated, tend to come at jurisprudential issues from a perspective different than those who work in more state-oriented fields, like constitutional, criminal, and administrative law. That's nicely illustrated by a new piece by Michael J. Madison (Pitt), who's written extensively on software licensing, intellectual property, and the Internet. His Social Software, Groups, and Law, is a fascinating read on what the law can learn from the kind of private-ordering mechanisms we find in informal groups. Here's the abstract:
Formal groups play an important role in the law. Informal groups largely lie outside it. Should the law be more attentive to informal groups? The paper argues that this and related questions are appearing more frequently as a number of computer technologies, which I collect under the heading social software, increase the salience of groups. In turn, that salience raises important questions about both the significance and the benefits of informal groups. The paper suggests that there may be important social benefits associated with informal groups, and that the law should move towards a framework for encouraging and recognizing them. Such a framework may be organized along three dimensions by which groups arise and sustain themselves: regulating places, things, and stories.