The Production, Use, And Dissemination of Knowledge And Information in The Global Communications Network

László Fekete

Abstract

It goes without saying that knowledge and information are the most valuable commodities in the new economy. Though knowledge and information as private goods could provide great business opportunities for rights holders in the global communications network, they exhibit the distinctive characteristics of public goods. Therefore, the commodification of knowledge and information requires a strict proprietary regime which restrains free access to them and enforces effective legal protection over their production, use, and dissemination. If the accessing and using rights of the individual users were free and unlimited the legal entitlements of rights holders would be worthless. Besides this common belief, many legal scholars, philosophers, scientists, and social scientists also emphasize that knowledge and information are social and cultural products made, shared, settled, and revised in democratic discourses, open scientific debates, and the pragmatic self-understanding of society. Therefore, the basic notions of mainstream economic paradigm about scarcity, exhaustibility, rivalry, and excludability, which are the distinctive characteristics of tangible goods, can be hardly applicable to the production, use, and distribution of knowledge and information. In some respects, knowledge and information are not fit into the framework of neoclassical economics.

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