The onset of the information age challenges the most basic of all economic principles: that one thing can only be supplied once money or another thing in its place is exchanged. Try to make basic economics function in this manner with information and you will find yourself in an unsolvable puzzle.
Spreading information is completely under the control of whoever possesses it. It doesn’t matter whether the controller is the original source of the information or not. Whoever has information has power to distribute it. Just as top CIA agents have the ability to share top secret intelligence with other nations as traitors and as college students have the means to cheat on their assignments through sharing information.
The internet makes almost all information available to anybody, anytime, anywhere. Our modems have finally united every person on the planet under the same medium of communication. As connection speed improves, greater information is available faster than ever.
Who doesn’t want this to happen? The media industry. It doesn’t matter if it’s film, music, video, or software. Media professionals preach a double standard. It’s alright for them to get information and sell it to you in the name of the right of free press. We, however, are not allowed to express our free speech by sharing information at will.
The famous Napster vs. Metallica case was an apparent victory for the media, however, things have changed very little. File-sharing software abounds in the likes of Morpheus, Limewire, WinMX and more. Intellectual property, as media information calls itself, claims protection against free distribution, controlling how we may use free speech to spread information.
All the efforts to control the spread of information are failures. Almost anything is available in some format or another. The problem with file-sharing software like those mentioned above, is that corrupted and poor quality files are exchanged. This is even worse because the original source loses credibility in addition to losing their money. Is there a middle-ground where media information authors can receive compensation for their efforts yet allow us free speech and the exchange of information?
The answer is yes. It is in the form of paid memberships to authorized file distribution sites and software licensing. By demanding a one-time fee for a lifetime membership to high quality file-sharing distribution, free speech is protected and media creators are compensated for their intellectual property. We should reward the media for bringing us entertainment, not pirate and corrupt their creations. We cannot, however, sacrifice our right of free speech and exchange of free information. The best solution, therefore, is a one-time paid membership to be able to download media information for free. Our iPods will be full and our rights will be safe.