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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Assembling Digital Economies: Geographic Information Markets and Intellectual Property Regimes in the United States and the European Union

  • Author(s): Alvarez Leon, Luis Felipe
  • Advisor(s): Scott, Allen J
  • Sheppard, Eric S
  • et al.

This dissertation explores how Intellectual Property regimes and information markets shape each other to produce geographically differentiated digital economies. The geographic variations and underlying conditions of this process are investigated through a multi-scalar comparison of various jurisdictions, geographic spaces defined by legal frameworks. The United States and the European Union (with a focus on the UK, Spain and Germany) are taken as leading examples of these spaces and studied through the lens of their respective Intellectual Property regimes to understand the dynamics in the construction of their information markets. The study is centered on the commodification and marketization of a particular good: geographic information stored and distributed through the Internet, also known as the geoweb. Geographic information (publicly financed, private and personal) is chosen as the object of study because it embodies defining features of contemporary capitalism including a) the expansion in size and value of the informational economy, b) new forms of production, distribution and consumption due to digitization and networking c) dramatic rearticulation of activities formerly dominated by the state, such as surveying and cartography. These three trends are synthesized to produce a geographic theory of the spatial and multiscalar construction of geographically variegated digital economies, which centers on the integrating vector of Intellectual Property regimes as a way to bound information within particular territories.

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