1.5 Goals and Plan of the Book

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I have three related objectives in writing this book. One is to tell the story of Internet governance objectively and comprehensively, and in the process apply what we know about property rights economics and institutional analysis to the story. Another is to synthesize a technological understanding of DNS and IP addressing with the economic and institutional analysis. This is necessary if we are to understand how technical systems are shaped by political and institutional constraints, and vice versa, and how the development of technical systems can be frozen or diverted into unexpected paths by legal and political pressures. Finally, I want to assess what is really at stake in this matter, to discuss and evaluate contrasting claims about the significance of ICANN and its new regime.

The book is organized into three parts. Part I is framework and background: it analyzes name and number spaces in technical and economic terms, and then elaborates the theories of property rights and institutional change that can be applied to the issue. This part draws on the work of Gary Libecap (1989) on the initial formation of property rights, Elinor Ostrom (1990; 1994) on collective action to resolve common pool problems, and John Richards (1999) on international regimes.

Part II is historical. It traces the growth of the root, the development of property rights conflicts, and the emergence of a new institutional framework to resolve those conflicts. It shows how organized interest groups, particularly intellectual property holders, deliberately reached for control of the root, the centralized point of coordination and control, to impose an order upon the Internet more to their liking. They were joined by an entrenched technical hierarchy that wanted to solidify its role in the management of the Internet and lacked the vision to understand what they were giving up to get it.

Part III explores the stakes and the longer-term policy and social issues posed by the institutionalization of the Internet under ICANN. It characterizes ICANN as a new international regime, one that is likely to become more politicized and to attract more direct and formal participation by governments as it matures. The new regime is analogous to radio broadcasting regulation, in that it uses its exclusive control of a resource to regulate the economic structure of an industry and to sanction various forms of user behavior. Unlike broadcast regulation, however, this is an explicitly global regime and has been placed outside the normal institutional constraints of national governments. The book also explores the World Intellectual Property Organization's attempt to use the ICANN regime to create a new system of global property rights in names.

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Ruling the Root(c) Internet Governance and the Taming of Cyberspace
Ruling the Root: Internet Governance and the Taming of Cyberspace
ISBN: 0262134128
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 110

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