Thursday, April 06, 2006

Anti A2K Rant

Thomas A Giovanetti has been ranting about the Access to Knowledge (A2K) conference at Yale later this month. He seems to think that anyone who thinks access to knowledge is important must also simultaneously believe that intellectual property is evil. Either that or he wants his readers to believe such a caricature.

Intellectual property exists to provide creators with an economic incentive to create.
It also exists to increase the global store of knowledge which we can all have access to. That global store of knowledge is also filled with ideas, inventions, scientific discoveries and facts developed without the benefit of intellectual property. We get access to the IP-facilitated part of that global store of knowledge initially for a price, in order, theoretically, so creators can get paid as long as the temporary and limited monopoly on the items protected by IP last. Once the monopoly runs out we get it, theoretically, for free.

Access to knowledge is a core theme in my book but so is intellectual property. The IP system lacks coherence and balance at the moment and needs reform but that doesn't mean it is not a sound idea. Calling for a system to be knocked back into shape, in order for it to serve the purpose/s it was originally intended that it serve, is most definitely not the same thing as calling for the abolition of the system.

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