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la riqueza de tu vieja

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fauno authored and mauriciopasquier committed Jan 19, 2014
1 parent fb1f9cc commit 9359811128d904b29c655d8b90d45580c9c74350
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@@ -899,8 +899,57 @@ is such a good of the purest type.” (Machlup 1984, 159).
> personas adicionales sin causar un costo adicional, entonces el
> conocimiento es el más puro de estos bienes [@machlup-1984, pp. 159]
When Stewart Brand declared that information wants to be free, he jumped on an anomaly in the economic science. Grievances about intellectual property law could now be addressed by turning the economic science against itself. It laid the foundation for the present, dominant critique of intellectual property in its innumerable variations. Despite the many garden varieties, the argument pivots around the discrepancy between endless digital resources and limited tangible resources. The non-existent marginal cost of reproducing knowledge is said to be in conflict with its treatment as a scarce property. It is for this reason intellectual property law is found guilty of the cardinal sin in the economic sciences: sub-optimal efficiency. Hence, the same judgement is passed on it as would befall any other obsolete industry or sector: it must perish. This conclusion is underlined by connecting back from time to time to economic theory. In the case of Yochai Benkler, the connection is even written out in the title of his major book: The wealth of networks (2006). It is a beautiful rhetorical move. In a world where the economic science has shaped much official discourse and human self-understanding, a self-contradiction within the same worldview becomes a powerful lever for delivering critique against status quo. With the same self-assurance as economists lay down the omnipresence of scarcity and the inescapable laws of the market, critics of intellectual property assert the non-rival nature of informational resources and its exception from those same laws.

When Stewart Brand declared that information wants to be free, he jumped
on an anomaly in the economic science. Grievances about intellectual
property law could now be addressed by turning the economic science
against itself. It laid the foundation for the present, dominant
critique of intellectual property in its innumerable variations. Despite
the many garden varieties, the argument pivots around the discrepancy
between endless digital resources and limited tangible resources. The
non-existent marginal cost of reproducing knowledge is said to be in
conflict with its treatment as a scarce property. It is for this reason
intellectual property law is found guilty of the cardinal sin in the
economic sciences: sub-optimal efficiency. Hence, the same judgement
is passed on it as would befall any other obsolete industry or sector:
it must perish. This conclusion is underlined by connecting back from
time to time to economic theory. In the case of Yochai Benkler, the
connection is even written out in the title of his major book: The
wealth of networks (2006). It is a beautiful rhetorical move. In a
world where the economic science has shaped much official discourse
and human self-understanding, a self-contradiction within the same
worldview becomes a powerful lever for delivering critique against
status quo. With the same self-assurance as economists lay down the
omnipresence of scarcity and the inescapable laws of the market, critics
of intellectual property assert the non-rival nature of informational
resources and its exception from those same laws.

Cuando Steward Brand declaró que la información quiere ser libre, estaba
saltando a una anomalía de la ciencia económica. Los agravios de la
regulación de la propiedad intelectual no pueden resolverse volviendo
a la ciencia económica contra sí misma. Estableció la fundación de la
crítica de la propiedad intelectual dominante en el presente en sus
innumerables variantes. A pesar de la gran cantidad de variantes, el
argumento pivota alrededor de la discrepancia entre recursos digitales
infinitos y recursos tangibles limitados. Se dice que el costo marginal
inexistente de la reproducción del conocimiento entra en conflicto con
su tratamiento como una propiedad escasa. Es por esta razón que la
regulación de la propiedad intelectual es declarada culpable del pecado
capital de las ciencias económicas: eficiencia subóptima. Por lo tanto,
se la juzga de la misma forma que a cualquier otra industria o sector
obsoletos: debe perecer. Esta conclusión es subrayada al conectar de
tiempo en tiempo con la teoría económica. En el caso de Yochai Benkler,
la conexión está incluso escrita en el título de su libro principal: La
riqueza de las redes[^wealth] [-@benkler-2006]. Es una movida retórica
hermosa. En un mundo donde la ciencia económica ha dado forma a la
mayor parte del discurso oficial y la auto-comprensión humana, una
auto-contradicción dentro de la mismo visión del mundo se convierte en
una poderosa palanca para hacer llegar la crítica contra el status quo.
Con la misma seguridad con la que los economistas establecen la
omnipresencia de la escasez y las leyes inevitables del mercado, los
críticos de la propiedad intelectual afirman la naturaleza no rival de
los recursos informacionales y su excepción de tales leyes.

[^wealth]: En referencia a _La riqueza de las naciones_ de Adam Smith.

The drawback with this critique of intellectual property is that it has taken over the limited horizon of the economic science. The anomaly of non-rival (informational) goods is always-already inscribed in the logic of omnipresent scarcity. Allegedly, the exceptionality of information as a commodity consists in that it has artificially been made scarce through a fiat by the state. The implicit assumption is that intellectual property defies the law of gravity and sooner or later must fall to the ground. The defenders of this position are oblivious to the fact that the economy pivots around at least three more commodities, labour, land and money, which are just as fictitious as information. The fiction that labour (i.e. living human beings) behave in accordance with price fluctuations and contractual agreements can only be maintained through continuous state intervention, and often repressive at that. Although the policing of this illusion is never airtight, most of the time it works well enough to keep the labour market and the economy in place (Polanyi, 2001). The only exceptionality that can be granted to information as opposed to labour, land and money, is that the former has very recently been made into a fictitious commodity. Hence, resistance to intellectual property feeds from the living memory of what information used to be and/or could have become. The achilles heel of this resistance is its indebtedness to commonsensical, economic notions, which naturalises a particular definition of information. According to this definition, information is something ready-made, predefined and unchangeable that can effortlessly be divorced from the flow of communication. The main grievance that can be voiced from this position is that intellectual property impedes the free circulation of information goods. Understood in those terms, the assignment of a content provider with intellectual property claims over the information units follows like a brief postscript. The rallying call ”information wants to be free” contains the seed of its own unfreedom: commodification.

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