Should Information on the Internet Be Free?

Should information on the Internet be free?  Information is an essential resource for any decision, but some data is more valuable than other.  Information that is current, accurate, scarce or can be used to make high value decisions is quite important and therefore, expensive. When data loses its timeliness, accuracy or scarcity, it loses its value.  This is not a new concept, but the Internet has changed the perception.

Research on the Internet is so much easier than going to the library and digging through stacks of books.  Information on the Internet is easily accessible, but you have to check its authenticity and correctness.  Books in libraries have more validation by the fact that they made it to the library shelf.  There is no guarantee that the information in library books is correct and authentic, but there are facts about the author, publisher, copyright and sources that give some credibility to the work.  Information on the Internet that is not cited should be viewed with suspicion.

Information in the public domain is vast and available on the Internet which makes it free for the taking, reading and repeating.

Should information that is not in the public domain be accessible and free? Much debate has surrounded Stewart Brand’s statement that “information wants to be free.”  But he also said that information wants to be expensive.  This is a wonderful paradox.

Holding and discussing the two opposing views that information wants to be free and expensive gives depth and dimension to the argument. So take the free information the Internet has to offer and purchase information that has value to you.  It’s your choice.

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