Summary: This is an essay I originally wrote for my high school English IV class. In it, I argue that the emergence of the Internet has made the current system of intellectual property antiquated; therefore, I believe that this system must be replaced with a new system that promotes information sharing over information hiding.
Article II, section 8 of the United States Constitution established a system of copyrights and patents “to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.” Since that time, this system of intellectual property rights has been successfully applied in defending authors’ right to restrict the availability of information; few have questioned the validity of such claims. However, the Internet stands to change everything. Created as the ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), the Internet allows the high quality duplication and rapid distribution of information. More importantly, this information sharing medium operates on open standards, that is, standards to which no one establishes intellectual property claims. Owing to the emergence of the Internet, the established system of intellectual property rights has become antiquated and must be replaced by a new system, one that encourages information sharing instead of information hiding.
Nevertheless, proponents of intellectual property rights maintain that the current system should be kept and even expanded. Creators, they claim, have an inherent right of ownership to their own creation. Additionally, these proponents believe that intellectual property laws provide the only incentives to creating works. Without the protections afforded by copyrights and patents, most would refuse to create works since guarantees of financial rewards, resulting from “the ability to exclude others”, would no longer exist (Molgen).
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