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Submissions/Ius Internet – Wikipedia and the future of law of Internet

From Wikimania 2010 • Gdańsk, Poland • July 9-11, 2010


This is an open submission for Wikimania 2010.

Title of the submission
Jus Internet - Wikipedia and the future of law of Internet
Type of submission (workshop, tutorial, panel, presentation)
Author of the submission
Joanna Kulesza
E-mail address or username (if username, please confirm email address in Special:Preferences)
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)
University of Lodz
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (please use no less than 300 words to describe your proposal)
The concept of jus Internet proposes a new legal regime for cyberspace. It initially resolves to the ancient concept of jus gentium (law of nations). The term was coined in Roman Empire to describe customary regulations set to shape mutual relations among the numerous Roman non-citizens. Since they came from different cultural backgrounds the principles of jus gentium were based on two universal pillars: mutual trust (fides) and equity (aequitas). Its particular norms were derived from two normative regimes: jus naturale (law of nature) and religious law. This legal system as one based on values recognized by many communities shaped the law of nations, today known as international law. The roots of international law lie in the elaboration and identification of values recognized as crucial by the entire international community. Their source does not come from the authority of state but from a common, moral understanding among the governed.

Nowadays the role of “natural law” recognized as a set of basic rights innate to all humans is taken over by ethics. Ethical standards recognized by most civilized nations may be presented as basis for a world-wide compromise on universal values. The need for such a compromise in the era of Internet is forever more urgent. Just as in Roman days there are individuals that interact solely due to the fact that they share the same space – not the physical territory of Roman land, but the virtual realm of cyberspace. Representatives of different cultures and legal systems meet on this common ground. In cyberspace the place of fides and aequitas may be taken over by ethics and computer code – as common elements of all electronic exchange. Based on those two elements a new set of rules – jus Internet, the law of the Internet – may be elaborated.

Second element of the concept presented is linked to the new trends in internet governance. The phenomenon of Wikipedia fascinates all the contemporary researchers who deal with the legal regulation of cyberspace (Benkler, Lessig, Tapscott and Williams, Zittrain). Wikipedia rules are being elaborated by their very subjects. Decisions are not based on the number of votes, but on the power of argument. In theory, a model of such self-organization would probably be considered an utopia, since it is too liberal to work. What saves Wikipedia from such fate is the fact, that, against all odds, it works. The potential that the Wikicommunity holds for the regulation of the entire cyberspace may not be under evaluated.

Track (People and Community/Knowledge and Collaboration/Infrastructure)
People and Community
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Slides or further information (optional)

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  1. jedi-kosa
  2. Natbrown 13:46, 29 June 2010 (UTC)[reply]