The Almighty Dollar Stands in the Way of Progress, Yet Again

It all boils down to money, is what I gathered from the readings and the video(??). There are two kinds of people in this world: those that wish to contribute to society any and all new ideas and information for the sake of progress and enrichment, and those that want to make a buck. Okay, maybe there is a little gray in there somewhere, but I have to come back to the money, which is what copyright law is all about.

In an ideal world, a “Creative Commons” sounds like a wonderful idea. This suggestion that we “advocate a balance between the rights and needs of the “owners” and “users” of intellectual property, but a balance that favors the enlargement of the “public domain”—taken here to mean not just the formal realm of works with no legal copyright protection, but also more broadly the arena defined by fair use and the sharing and dissemination of ideas and creativity,” truly speaks of a genuine sharing of knowledge, which is what I hope all academics strive for. (Daniel J. Cohen, Digital History) However, as Cohen rightly points out, there are those who embrace Hobbes’ state of nature and demand what I’m sure they feel is rightly theirs. In our twisted world, what determines one’s value is the almighty dollar.

I can’t help but feel that it isn’t just that some people genuinely care about the transfer of knowledge and others don’t so much as they care about money. It can’t be that black and white. And, it’s not like there aren’t legitimate reasons for a person wanting some sort of payment in return for research and scholarship. However, in the ideal “Creative Commons,” that Cohen talks about, the payment for scholarship is knowledge that is available to all. In the real world a student has to pay for college, therefore that student is taught from the very beginning that obtaining knowledge comes at a price. Is it any shock that there are people, scholars, in this world, that maintain that ideology? In order for the Creative Commons to truly be successful, the initial knowledge obtained so that a person may be able to contribute to that commons, should also be free and available to all, shouldn’t it?

Okay, I totally took this assignment as an opportunity to take a jab at high tuition and our backwards government. But seriously, I support a creative commons. I feel that knowledge should not be held for ransom, whether that ransom be money or all the hoops one must jump through in order to obtain and use new knowledge. I mean, seriously, how is anyone supposed to venture out into society and feel like they are able to contribute when there are so many laws in your way? I feel that Lawrence Lessig’s, creative transparency, which allows for proper attribution, should be enough payment to any scholar who genuinely wants to contribute to progress and the future. It should be, but the real world demands money. And that, is the sad reality.


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