Information does not want to be free

Harry M. Kriz Harry_M_Kriz at
Mon Jan 27 09:06:12 EST 1997

I'm intrigued by those who argue that "information wants to be free."

It's clear to me that information wants to be as expensive as it can be. 

I've heard it argued that we librarians should be able to use the
taxpayer's money to give away copies of published works belonging to
authors and publishers just because those publishers and authors won't sell
their work at a "reasonable" price, or because they no longer wish to sell
it at all.

Let's apply that argument a little closer to home. Suppose I've worked for
years to develop the best tasting butternut squash this side of heaven.
(Yeah, I'm a vegaholic). You'd like to have some, but I don't want to sell
them. You'd especially like the seeds so you could grow your own next year.
My crop of wonderful squash is just lying out in my garden, and I can't
possibly eat them all. They are just going to rot. Would that entitle you
to enter my garden and take the squash I wasn't using? Would you want to
authorize the government to confiscate the squash I had grown and give it
to you so you could give the seeds to all your friends? 

For librarians to argue against the intellectual property rights of authors
and publishers is to undermine the foundations of the profession of


Harry_M_Kriz at   540-231-7052   FAX:  540-231-3694
University Libraries
Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (Virginia Tech)
Blacksburg, VA   24061-0434     USA
"What joy to awake every morning in a world so filled with  things to learn."
                                                         - H. M. Kriz (1994)

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