World Wide Web or Tela totius terrae? What the Romans could do for us

Anne-Kathrin Kuehnel

Abstract

 The question of intellectual property protection is almost as old as mankind itself.
Certainly since antiquity, creators of intellectual goods have voiced complaints
about so-called intellectual theft and the perceived violation of their rights. These
complaints have increased over time and have eventually lead to what could be
labelled “total propertisation” of such goods in both the real and the virtual world.
The consequences of this development have been described as disastrous not only for
the sectors of research and education but also for society as such.
  Concentrating on the question of intellectual property and the World Wide Web,
this paper examines the question if the WWW could be considered a service as
indispensable for today’s society as some services in ancient Rome and what, if
anything, modern society could learn from the ancient view. It is suggested that it
might not be such a bad idea to re-discover some forgotten values to the benefit of
society.

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