Yochai Benkler

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Yochai Benkler
Yochai Benkler speaking at UC Berkeley School of Law in 2006
Born1964 (age 5556)
Alma mater Tel-Aviv University
Harvard Law School
Spouse(s)Deborah Schrag
Scientific career
Fields Information technology law
Industrial information economy
Institutions Harvard Law School
Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society
Website benkler.org
Yochai Benkler speaking at UC Berkeley School of law in 2006 Yochai benkler boalt high-res.JPG
Yochai Benkler speaking at UC Berkeley School of law in 2006

Yochai Benkler ( /ˈjx/ ; born 1964) is an Israeli-American author and the Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard Law School. He is also a faculty co-director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.



From 1984 to 1987, Benkler was a member and treasurer of the 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 Klein 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] He is also one of the 25 leading figures on the Information and Democracy Commission launched by Reporters Without Borders. [4]


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. [5] 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." [6]

The Wealth of Networks

Benkler's 2006 book The Wealth of Networks [7] 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. [8] (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, which enables them to move from passive recipients of "received wisdom" to active participants. 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.

Network Propaganda

Benkler in 2009 Yochai Benkler (3349409200).jpg
Benkler in 2009

Along with Robert Faris, Research Director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, and Hal Roberts, a Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, Benkler co-authored the October 2018 Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation and Radicalization in American Politics. [9]

Contributions to industrial information economy

According to Benkler, the emergence of the networked information economy "has the potential to increase individual autonomy", [10] which he means would provide individuals with a richer basis from which they can form critical judgement concerning how they should live their life. 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." [11]

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. [12]

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. [13] 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. [14]

In August 2011, Benkler was a keynote speaker at the Wikimania conference in Haifa, Israel. [15] That same August, [16] 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. [17]

Benkler contributed the essay "Complexity and Humanity" to the Freesouls book project, which discusses the human element in production and technology. [18]


See also

Related Research Articles

“The Nature of the Firm” (1937), is an article by Ronald Coase. It offered an economic explanation of why individuals choose to form partnerships, companies and other business entities rather than trading bilaterally through contracts on a market. The author was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1991 in part due to this paper.

Jonathan Zittrain American law professor

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In the context of an evolving information society, the term information ecology marks a connection between ecological ideas with the dynamics and properties of the increasingly dense, complex and important digital informational environment and has been gaining acceptance in a growing number of disciplines. "Information ecology" often is used as metaphor, viewing the informational space as an ecosystem.

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The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society is a research center at Harvard University that focuses on the study of cyberspace. Founded at Harvard Law School, the center traditionally focused on internet-related legal issues. On May 15, 2008, the Center was elevated to an interfaculty initiative of Harvard University as a whole. It is named after the Berkman family. On July 5, 2016, the Center added "Klein" to its name following a gift of $15 million from Michael R. Klein.

Commons-based peer production (CBPP) is a term coined by Harvard Law School professor Yochai Benkler. It describes a model of socio-economic production in which large numbers of people work cooperatively; usually over the Internet. Commons-based projects generally have less rigid hierarchical structures than those under more traditional business models. Often—but not always—commons-based projects are designed without a need for financial compensation for contributors. For example, sharing of STL design files for objects freely on the internet enables anyone with a 3-D printer to digitally replicate the object saving the prosumer significant money.

Social peer-to-peer processes are interactions with a peer-to-peer dynamic. These peers can be humans or computers. Peer-to-peer (P2P) is a term that originated from the popular concept of the P2P distributed computer application architecture which partitions tasks or workloads between peers. This application structure was popularized by file sharing systems like Napster, the first of its kind in the late 1990s.

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<i>The Wealth of Networks</i> Book by Yochai Benkler

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  1. Benkler bio
  2. Board and Advisory Board Archived 2010-10-16 at the Wayback Machine Sunlight Foundation, February 14, 2011
  3. Yochai Benkler receives Ford Foundation Visionaries Award on cyber.law.harvard.edu
  4. https://rsf.org/en/yochai-benkler
  5. 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'.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Benkler, Y. (2011). "The unselfish gene". Harvard Business Review. 89 (7–8): 76–85, 164. PMID   21800472.
  9. Benkler, Yochai; Faris, Robert; Roberts, Hal (October 15, 2018). Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation and Radicalization in American Politics. Oxford University Press. ISBN   978-0190923631.
  10. 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.
  11. Benkler, Yochai (2002) Coase 's Penguin, or, Linux and the Nature of the Firm . Archived 2010-10-10 at the Wayback Machine The Yale Law Journal 112(3): 429
  12. Conflicts in cultural production
  13. Techpresident.com
  14. Benkler.org
  15. Israel hosts Wikimania 2011
  16. "The Penguin and the Leviathan: How Cooperation Triumphs over Self-Interest". cyber.law.harvard.edu.
  17. The Penguin and the Leviathan: How Cooperation Triumphs over Self-Interest on cyber.law.harvard.edu (October 8, 2011)
  18. Complexity and Humanity, Yochai Benkler
  19. Donald McGannon Award for Social and Ethical Relevance in Communications Policy Research from The McGannon Center
  20. IP3 Awards Winners Announced from Public Knowledge
  21. Press release March 2007 of Electronic Frontier Foundation
  22. CITASA Book Award Archived 2012-11-24 at the Wayback Machine from American Sociological Association
  23. Science, Technology, and Environmental Politics Section Don K. Price Award Winners from American Political Science Association
  24. Twelve Social Change Visionaries Are Honored by the Ford Foundation Archived 2011-11-02 at the Wayback Machine on fordfoundation.org