ACTA: The Ethical Analysis of a Failure and Its Lessons

Luciano Floridi, the UNESCO Chair in Information and Computer Ethics at the University of Hertfordshire, has written a helpful analysis of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement and its failure.

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  1. Luciano shows a key misunderstanding that likely comes from an acceptance of the status quo and an ignorance of history. The whole concept of an information economy is faulty. It relies on the concept that information can somehow be shared, and yet still be prevented from being further shared without further recompense to the original creator.

    It is the belief that somehow our ideas are ours alone, and that only we should ever profit from them. It is a purposeful ignorance of the knowledge that ideas are rarely revolutionary or new. We as a species are evolutionary, and so too are our ideas; they build on what is already known, or has already been expressed.

    It has only been in the last ~200 years that mankind has tried to suggest such information should be or could be controlled, and of course the motive even then was for personal profit.

    IPR suggests that whoever is first to suggest or invent something is special, and that no other human being could possibly have done the same. It is a fallacy at its core, and something that I at least hope the human race can evolve beyond; because truly the mere thought that an idea can be ‘owned’ is a drag on the advancement of our human race.

  2. Paul Sijpkes says:

    information economies, a pragmatic perspective
    Richard you have a good point, and I wish that we could achieve such a utopian circumstance. But this may involve returning to bartering goods, as we did over 2500 years ago, instead of using an abstracted form of currency. If the good being bartered is information, then we have the difficulty of transferring that value into energy. Since we are life forms, we all need energy in the form of food to survive, which needs to be grown. The people that create information create something intangible which we value but can’t eat, we value it every day through our television, browsing the internet, downloading movies, music etc. If we value it, then we should pay for it, the problem ends up being who get’s paid? The obvious person is the person who produces the good that we value, whether it is unique or not. Now do we call that person the ‘owner’ of the information? That’s another question, but I think John Locke had something to say on this…