Free distribution of information can be rationalized in a manufacturing or agricultural society as a means for furthering economic interests. However, an information society cannot afford to give information away because it is the basic commodity with which it bargains in the international marketplace. An attempt is made to reconcile the conflicting concerns about information as a public resource and as an economic commodity. An information society requires a legal system in which the value of the contributions of those involved in the creative process is recognized. Property rights for information, including the rights of access, confidentiality, and reply, are discussed, as are jurisdictional questions concerning the structure of information transport systems. In addition, the applicability of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) to telecommunications services and information products is examined.
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