This paper examines the notion that the enclosure of the information commons through the privatization of information that used to be in the public domain is part of a broad pattern of legal and political changes that are transforming several of the fundamental elements of modernity: science, scholarship, and law.
Studying long-standing institutions for governing common pool resources at various scales can provide important lessons for governing new kinds of shared resources. In the end, institutionalizing effective processes for ongoing negotiation of the rules is more important than the rules themselves.
Institutional arrangements embedded in a complex social context of rules and norms such as trust can overcome the deterioration and depletion of common-pool resources arising from individuals' rational self-interest; specific arrangements tailored to the inherent characteristics of a common-pool resource and the users can provide the optimal sustainable management of that resource.
Any group that attempts to manage a common resource (e.g., aquifers, judicial systems, pastures) for optimal sustainable production must solve a set of problems in order to create institutions for collective action; there is some evidence that following a small set of design principles in creating these institutions can overcome these problems.
The empirical and theoretical research stimulated by Garrett Hardin's 1968 conclusion that users of a commons are caught in an inevitable process that leads to the destruction of the resources on which they depend indicates that while tragedies of the commons are real, they are not inevitable.