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Should All Information be Free?

January 18th, 2012 by Bob Bly

In an online ad to protest anti-piracy laws pending in congress, Wikepedia says, “Imagine a world without free knowledge.”

But should ALL knowledge be free?

Do you expect the attendant at  your local gas station to fill your car for free?

Do you expect your doctor to treat  you for free?

Do you expect the plumber to fix your leaky faucet for free?

A mantra you hear on the Internet is “information wants to be free.”

Does that mean those who create content are entitled to no rewards from it … and are expected to work for free?

What do  you think?

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 18th, 2012 at 11:15 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

43 responses about “Should All Information be Free?”

  1. Stephen Cowee said:

    No, to all your questions, naturally. None of which is the point at all.

    The point is that trying to completely restructure the underlying protocols of the Internet so that a handful of film studios, international recording labels, and book publishers can make even higher record profits is pointless, very dangerous to the security of everyone who uses the web and actually expects that a website they landed on is the real thing, and an effort that won’t even work anyway.

    No one opposing PIPA and SOPA wants to prevent someone getting paid for their work; they simply don’t want the entire world to suffer, weaken the Internet, have their sites taken down for no legitimate reason, and are frankly, very tired of the many tails out there wagging their respective dogs.

    As am I. Getting paid for your work is one thing, and no one expects free gas and oil, But having your website hacked and your database compromised so Jerry Bruckheimer can make another billion is not my idea of a fair payment and subsidy for paying to watch Armageddon XVII.

    First we had the VCR, then DVDs, now the web. Wake up, MPAA, and learn to adapt to the 21st century. Try making something of quality, and people will pay for it. There will always be pirates, just as Walmart knows there will always be shrinkage (theft). Live with it, adapt, and don’t make the world pay your mortgage on that 4th home.

    Today (the 18th), while you still can, try going to google, wikipedia, boingboing, reddit, or any one of hundreds and thousands more sites for more information on what this really is.

    If you write and make money online, then yes, this is about you, too.

  2. Henry said:

    As a copywriter I make my living from selling intellectual property. So obviously I believe that it needs to be protected. Wikipedia agrees. Here is an expanded version of their view on “Free Information.” In their own words:

    “Wikipedians are knowledgeable about copyright and vigilant in protecting against violations: Wikipedians spend thousands of hours every week reviewing and removing infringing content. We are careful about it because our mission is to share knowledge freely. To that end, all Wikipedians release their contributions under a free license, and all the material we offer is freely licensed. Free licenses are incompatible with copyright infringement, and so infringement is not tolerated.”

    I’m sure it’s been pointed out a million times today and will be pointed out a million times again. This bill isn’t scary because of it makes copyright infringement illegal. That’s already illegal.

    It’s scary because it gives the Government censorship control over entire websites for a single user infractions. It’s not a stretch to think they could, at some point, start shutting down websites just because they don’t like what they’re saying (all it would take is a single link in the comments to a copyright infringing website). If we lose free speech, intellectual property becomes worthless anyway.

  3. Scott said:

    Copyright law violates the 1st amendment.
    Nothing wrong with getting paid for work, of course; which has *nothing* to do with copyright. Nor with SOPA.

  4. Braden Talbot said:

    The first question doesn’t line up with the rest.

    Should knowledge be free? Well, it isn’t. It takes time to read and write. It takes time to teach. But that’s not the point.

    Information is infinitely reproducible. No property rights are actually violated. The difference between the reproduction of knowledge and the reproduction of labor and goods is one is scarce and information isn’t.

    I suggest reading “Against Intellectual Monopoly” by Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine. It contains actual economic research and studies that intellectual property is just a nonsensical racket, this aside from the philisophical arguments that you don’t actually “create” anything.

    In the end, its not whether or not is “should” be free. That’s between the buyer and seller–the producer and consumer. But action and litigation against IP laws are an insane bunch of nonsense.

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  7. Stephen James said:

    All the examples you gave are services and of course shouldn’t be free. And as for not being rewarded for sharing the information.. BBC News get their money from the tax payer and share information with the tax payer. Why isnt it the tax payer therefore, who decides what information should be free. Dont share the codes to nuclear weapons. share everything else. An open world is our only hope.

  8. Sheri Ways said:

    I keep trying to subscribe towards the Letters thing, but there’s nowhere to do so! Once i sign in, under the MANAGE YOUR SUBSCRIPTION backlink, there’s only my Book Club subscription. How do I add the Letters thing for $5?

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