Center for a Stateless Society » IP is a Hurdle to Self-Direction
" ... Under self-direction, peer-to-peer learning is incredibly important. Focusing specifically on Higher Education, particularly graduate academics, there is a need and reliance on empirical data. The goal of graduate research is to add to a body of knowledge that seeks understanding of a system or concept. In order to conduct such research, one must not only understand the relevant field, but also be granted access to data, information and the methods used to obtain such data. In today’s academic institutions this is championed, but there do exist barriers to achieving this goal – one of the greatest is perhaps Intellectual Property (IP). Take the case of Diego Gomez, a 26-year-old Colombian student whose research interest is biodiversity conservation. Throughout his academic career, access to peer reviewed journals on global research databases was extremely limited due to lack of institutional resources. Because of this, Gomez became dependent on the Internet. The web allowed him to research, share documents and talk with colleagues. To further collaboration, when he and others came across relevant papers they shared them together over the net. One such paper landed him in legal trouble when the author filed a lawsuit over the 'violation of [his] economic and related rights.' Under the allegations of this lawsuit, reports EFF, Gomez could be sent to prison for up to eight years and face crippling monetary fines. His crime is violation of 'intellectual property' law – patents, copyright and trademarks that restrict human labor and innovation. This is the curse of IP – excessive restrictions upheld by laws used to protect the “economic rights” of authors. Instead of promoting scientific progress we are instead beholden to copyright. Instead of allowing human innovation to flourish, we are told ideas should be owned ..."