Ideas, unlike popsicles, do not disappear once they are consumed, Ann Wolpert notes. And the resources of the academic world are intended to be used repeatedly — exchanged and enhanced. Wolpert finds particularly threatening the notion of extending copyright law to the work of academics. Ideas should not “be stuffed in the same box as Mickey Mouse,” she says.
The internet has fundamentally changed the flow of information, and while it has encouraged a greater degree of “social sharing,” it is now threatened by market forces, which insist on controlling and realizing profit from ideas. Asserts Wolpert, “Neither the academy nor society can tolerate tight control over movement of information. For knowledge to advance, production and distribution systems can and should occur outside the tightly controlled, capital intensive publishing system.”
This video lecture, available free on MITWorld, is represented by Nancy Kranich, Ann Wolpert and Steven Pinker and takes a look at what has come to be known as digital commons.