Friday, May 28, 2010

Human/Intellectual Property Rights on the Web

In my previous posts I’ve brainstormed Stienbeck’s Grapes of Wrath in relation to Internet issues involving supply and demand of information, the evolution of the new media, and how groups can unite for social reform through means of media. This series of tangent thoughts has led me to examine the larger issue of intellectual property rights of the Internet.

But wait a minute. Didn’t I say in my last post that social activism was my main point? I did indeed. However, I’m now seeing that while these digital revolutionary movements have been the result, property rights have been the cause. It all gets back to the question of the human rights of use and ownership and the boundaries for containing those rights. So what are people exactly entitled to in terms of this digital age? Ownership of information? Certainly people deserve to be attributed acknowledgement at the least for their efforts and contributions to society, but do they really own what they publish as theirs?

 Once a conceptualized idea becomes public domain, does it really have an owner?

When the Joads were evicted from their farm in The Grapes of Wrath, it was because the bank had staked ownership on their land – much the way that Internet databases stake claim to their collective knowledge. Going along with a quote from Capitalism and the Internet: “Can the big corporations enclose the commons that is the Internet? If so, how? The jemmy they want to use to break in to the Internet commons is intellectual property law . . . they claim to own the software and won't let anyone else use it” (See Any comments?

I’m trying to get a hold of The Intellectual Property Renaissance in Cyberspace: Why Copyright Law Could Be Unimportant on the Internet by Eric Schlachter, but other ideas for sources to go to would be great too.

1 comment:

  1. James, your thoughts about property rights as analogy to rights to information online is thought-provoking. It makes me think of wikipedia as a perfect example of a large, modern, and very serious effort to mesh both access to information and correct attribution of sources. Almost every article addresses these concerns, if you look through the editorial pages and historical chronology of different versions of articles. You might, for instance, look at "intellectual property rights" on wikipedia:

    and skim through the various comments about giving credit and not claiming material to be true without documentation.