Classic Article on “Cybermediaries”

By Eric Goldman

Mitra B. Sarkar et al., Intermediaries and Cybermediaries: A Continuing Role for Mediating Players in the Electronic Marketplace, J. COMPUTER MEDIATED COMMUNICATIONS, 1995

I’ve been working on my Brand Spillovers paper, which in part addresses the trademark legal principles that govern intermediaries including retailers and search engines. The Sarkar article is one of the most prescient and clear-sighted articles assessing the role of online intermediaries. In particular, it provides a terrific checklist of ways that intermediaries can provide valuable services to consumers and producers, thus continuing to add value to the distribution chain even as transaction costs generally decrease due to electronic mediation. This article is even more remarkable because it was written in the mid-1990s, at the height of cyberspace exceptionalism and at the time when conventional wisdom was that the Internet was going to create widespread disintermediation. A refreshing read, even today.