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This paper explores software's pivotal role in the power dynamics of contemporary capitalism. The author theorizes Free Software as a new form of property that is infecting capitalism like a virus, challenging the system of private property central to its dominant logic. Free Software can be produced by developers working for free in peer communities or in profit-oriented firms. The author explores the conditions under which Free Software is produced through peer versus market-based production, emphasizing the implications for constructing the Free Software market and the digital commons. The author identifies actors' motivations, the organizational structure of production, and financial resources as three factors shaping these conditions. The author focuses on the case of Ubuntu, a Free Software operating system that is available free of charge on the Internet. Ubuntu is produced by Canonical, a Free Software, market-based firm, through an intriguing combination of market-based and peer production that both embodies and transforms capitalist practices.
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Keywords: Free Software; Ubuntu; commons; globalization; information technology

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Sociology and Anthropology,University of Redlands, 1200 E. Colton Ave.Redlands,CA,92373, USA

Publication date: May 1, 2012

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