Accepted paper:

The legal grey zone as an incubator of innovation: from drugs to pharma


Johan Soderberg (Göteborg University)

Paper short abstract:

The case is made that the legal greyzone serves as an incubator for innovation in the "knowledge economy". This case is made by making a comparison between the position of the hacker/filesharer in the computer industry and the drug addict in the pharmaceutical industry.

Paper long abstract:

The outlaw position is one of standing outside and against instituions, yet it is a much celebrated trope in popular culture and in the hacker- and maker-scene. In what sense are these positions always-already incorporated into the open innovation regime of the industry, and, subsequently, the self-imagery of being "outside" a self-delusion? To investigate this question, the presentation makes a comparison between the filesharer in the computer industr, and the drug addict in the pharmaceutical industry. The claim is made that they act as lead-users in driving innovations in respective field. In the so-called knowledge economy, the legal greyzone serves as an incubator for developments in high tech industries. This should not come as a surproise, since, innovation, as such, is essentially a loophole in constituted order. Whether the goal is to circumvent a chemical definition of a controlled substance with legal hights, or a patent held by a competitors, or, an environmental regulation on the use of pesiticides, the innovator innovates to get around the law. A fuller understanding of innovation and the motor that drives it must give full recongition to conflict, antagonism and contradiction as what goes to the heart of what innovation is. This theoretical argument will be outlined in the presentation.

back to panel D04
Conflict, dissolution, contest
Outlaw innovation and the invention of the outlaw