Saturday, January 19, 2013

Access to Information and Intellectual Property Rights

The furor following Aaron Swartz's suicide raised an interesting question for me: how to increase people's access to information without depriving people of rights to their intellectual property? There seems to be no argument about what Swartz did, but there is considerable discussion of whether what he did was wrong. Is it wrong to download journal articles without paying a fee? The defenders of Swartz's action talk about free access to information, but what about the right of authors and researchers to be compensated for their work? Is there any moral difference between downloading a journal article without paying and stealing a magazine? 

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