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Intellectual Property Norms in Online Communities: How User-Organized Intellectual Property Regulation Supports Innovation

Bauer, Julia and Franke, Nikolaus and Türtscher, Philipp (2016) Intellectual Property Norms in Online Communities: How User-Organized Intellectual Property Regulation Supports Innovation. Information Systems Research, 27 (4). pp. 724-750. ISSN 1526-5536

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Abstract

In many online communities, users reveal innovative and potentially valuable intellectual property (IP) under conditions that entail the risk of theft and imitation. Where there is rivalry and formal IP law is not effective, this would lead to underinvestment or withholding of IP, unless user-organized norms compensate for these shortcomings. This study is the first to explore the characteristics and functioning of such a norms-based IP system in the setting of anonymous, large-scale, and loose-knit online communities. In order to do so, we use data on the Threadless crowdsourcing community obtained through netnography, a survey, and a field experiment. On this basis, we identify an integrated system of well-established norms that regulate the use of IP within this community. We analyze the system's characteristics and functioning, and we find that the "legal certainty" it provides is conducive to cooperation, cumulative effects, and innovation. We generalize our findings from the case by developing propositions aimed to spark further research. These propositions focus on similarities and differences between norms-based IP systems in online and offline settings, and the conditions that determine the existence of norms-based IP systems as well as their form and effectiveness in online communities. In this way, we contribute to the literatures on norms-based IP systems and online communities and offer advice for the management of crowdsourcing communities.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. You are free to download this work and share with others, but cannot change in any way or use commercially without permission, and you must attribute this work as "Information Systems Research. Copyright ©2016, The Author(s). https://doi.org/10.1287/isre.2016.0649,used under a Creative Commons Attribution License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/."
Keywords: intellectual property systems; social norms; innovation; online communities; crowdsourcing
Divisions: Departments > Strategy and Innovation > Entrepreneurship und Innovation
Forschungsinstitute > Familienunternehmen
Kompetenzzentren > WU Gründungszentrum
Version of the Document: Published
Depositing User: Gertraud Novotny
Date Deposited: 17 May 2017 15:06
Last Modified: 17 May 2017 16:34
Related URLs:
FIDES Link: https://bach.wu.ac.at/d/research/results/76848/
URI: http://epub.wu.ac.at/id/eprint/5559

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