Claim: Information wants to be free

Response: There’s a couple things to be said about “information wants to be free”.

First, it ascribes intentions to inanimate objects. In this way, it’s a bit like the “Computers are designed to copy” – removing the focus on human beings for their actions, and placing it on inanimate objects (which can’t be blamed, since we don’t blame inanimate objects).

Second, the original statement was “Information wants to be free. Information wants to be expensive.” Most people leave-off the second statement because it doesn’t fit the point they want to make.

Third, I actually disagree with the word ‘information’ since it’s an overly general term. When we use the word ‘information’ we can imagine all kinds of things we normally do with information – share it, use it to inform people, etc. In virtually all cases, it’s more accurate to say that piracy involves ‘entertainment’ and sharing involves undermining the creator’s economic incentives and ability to create new entertainment.

Now, I understand that people want information to be free – i.e. they want to get it for free and they want to share it with others. One might rhetorically ask “how could sharing information could be harmful?” The short answer is that we can all think of ways “sharing information” is harmful (telling a friend’s secret, revealing military secrets, etc). The longer answer is something that I explain elsewhere – it can be harmful to the financial foundation of the creator and undermine production of new media.

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