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What’s Old Becomes New: Regulating the Sharing Economy

Original story at Boston Bar Journal• 7 mentions • 10 months ago

Boston Bar Journal 10 months ago

The Sharing Economy: An old concept made new through the internet-based sharing of underutilized space, skills, and stuff for monetary and non-monetary benefits.Recently, a proliferation of start-ups have created digital platforms to connect owners with consumers.These companies encourage people—and businesses—to use resources more efficiently and to share non-product assets (like time) as well as conventional “stuff.”Citizens can share space in their homes (Airbnb), seats in their car (Lyft, Sidecar, UberX), places to park (Park Circa), used clothing (ThredUp), outdoor gear (gearcommons), time in the day (TaskRabbit, Instacart), and even capital (Zopa, Prosper).This trend has attracted significant attention from thought leaders (in 2011, Time Magazine crowned it one of ten ideas that will change the world), venture capital (Uber recently received $258M in funding from Google Ventures, and a recent round of financing for Airbnb would value it above $10B), the media, and, most recently, Congress.Nevertheless, regulatory mechanisms have not kept pace.Small-scale, non-monetized sharing has historically been ignored or exempted by the legal system (though barter exchange is taxable).The tipping point is near, however, as sharing with strangers becomes big business.Forbes estimates the sharing economy generated $3.5 billion in 2013.To grossly generalize, the law tends to prefer binary divisions: public and private, business and personal, donation and sale, consumer and provider, and, most saliently, my property and yours.In the sharing economy, many companies blur these boundaries, resulting in a legal gray area.Proponents, typically a younger, urban demographic, tend to view the regulatory hurdles as protectionism, serving entrenched operators in the market like taxicabs and hotels.Yet, for municipalities, regulating sharing economy companies requires balancing the safety and welfare of the public with the potential for new economic development opportunities.
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What they're saying:

21 Apr
Michel Bauwens @mbauwens
What’s Old Becomes New: Regulating the Sharing Economy | Boston Bar Journal http://t.co/fepihRoBTw
11 Apr
Ben Hecht @benhecht
RT @ehooge: Great recap of regulatory issues facing the sharing economy http://t.co/R2iDWX9A42
11 Apr
Emile HOOGE @ehooge
Great recap of regulatory issues facing the sharing economy http://t.co/R2iDWX9A42
10 Apr
Shareable @Shareable
RT @EuroFreelancers Simple but exhaustive list of regulatory challenges the #sharingeconomy is facing: http://t.co/emT6MC9A56 via @BostonBar
09 Apr
Nancy Scola @nancyscola
This big deal: "The ["sharing economy"] companies’ claims reference the federal Communications Decency Act…" http://t.co/o7FlgPH2qo
03 Apr
Nigel Jacob @nsjacob
What’s Old Becomes New: Regulating the Sharing Economy http://t.co/cKjG3AKY4A via @wordpressdotcom
03 Apr
April Rinne @aprilrinne
Well done @Molly__Cohen & Corey Zehngebot: "What’s Old Becomes New: Regulating Sharing Economy" / Boston Bar Journal http://t.co/Wull9ASV48