Internet Freedom and Copyright Maximalism: Contradictory Hypocrisy or Complementary Policies?
Blayne Haggart and Michael Jablonski
US advocacy for increased international intellectual property protection and a free and open Internet has been criticized as being inconsistent at best and hypocritical at worst. Placing US copyright and Internet policy in an historical context and using Susan Strange’s concepts of structural power and knowledge structures, we argue copyright and Internet policies cannot be analyzed in isolation, but are intimately and inextricably linked forms of knowledge regulation. All knowledge regulation policies involve balancing access and restriction. Our analysis suggests that the current US policy of Internet freedom and strong copyright protection represents a particular, historically situated strategy designed to exert structural power in the global information economy: free flow of information creates markets by exposure to intellectual properties while copyright secures economic benefit to copyright holders from the flow. We argue that a full and honest debate over issues of information access requires acknowledgement of contemporary and conflicting values, with the realization that different societies and interests will weigh access and dissemination differently. Recognizing as legitimate and incorporating these different perspectives into the global governance structures of the Internet is the key challenge facing those who favor truly democratic global Internet governance.
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