Saturday, October 27, 2007

Information: The Perfect Economic Good (Part 8)

WHO OWNS INFORMATION

Bohm-Bawerk theorized the importance or establishing ownership of information and wrote extensively on how human beings struggle for control of this good. (Campen 24) With most economic goods, control of that good is determined by possession, which can be assessed by physical possession. The qualities of information deter it from being possessed physically so other means of determining ownerships must be set. Bohm-Bawerk goes on to say that integration of the legal right (ownership) to Information as ownership (Campen 25)

Also, information is only able to acquire the proper market price when some form of monopoly protects it, as through the protection of a patent or copyright, which is the usual recourse for creating value and protecting investment. (Coiera 217) Debates on the subject of intellectual property rights (IPRs) have expanded to a vast extent, not only in the main developed countries but also in the international negotiating arena so much that some say that the creation of new IPRs for databases could upset the balance between protection and dissemination, tipping it dangerously towards the former. (Lopez 2) Jeremy Bentham observed some 200 years ago when discussing the usefulness of patents, IPRs are monopolies that encourage the production of things that, were it not for the promise of exclusive appropriability by virtue of IPRs, would probably never have created. (Lopez 7) That being said, its clear on the one hand that, in spite of the existence of both legislation and technological means that could protect investment in the creation and maintenance of databases, there are problems not only with the enforcement of relevant contracts and laws, but also with the “circumvention” of technological protection measures, all of which inflicts monetary losses on database owners (not only operating in the private sector but also, in many cases, being State bodies). (Lopez 3)

Today, legal protection for “non original” databases only exist in the European Union (EU), Mexico and some Nordic counties. In the USA, various bills have been put forward on the subject but none approved. (Lopez 5)

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