Cybercrime, copyrights: what is free information?

Identity theft presupposes that the information is confidential because it is private or because of its commercial value or its intellectual value. But what about data that informs readers of the news of the world?
Newspapers struggle between two avenues: asking for payment to view contents (news of the day or/and archives), making the data available for free and finding new means to cover costs, notably to pay journalist.
Two articles shed light on the debate and can possibly help understanding when there is theft of information.
The first article, at TechDirt, gives a historical perspective to the debate by reminding us that news were usually given for free and adverts cover the most costs. “Why Journalists Demanding Newspapers Charge For News Need To Check Up On Newspaper History” 2 January 2008 http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20071231/002429.shtml

The second article, also at TechDirt, looks at a specific issue, the struggle to hire sport journalists, and put it in perspective. Maybe the difficulties newspapers have do no relate to the internet, but the evolution of society as a whole, internet being part of this evolution, but only a part of it. ” The Journalism Business Is Dying? Someone Forgot To Tell Sports Reporters…” 26 December 2007 http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20071226/020326.shtml

I can’t stop myself making a link with something apparently different but ultimately very close to the issue. Apparently a MIT professor was so unhappy somebody used 2 lines of his work he sued them, the money went to charities. All is well apparently because he did not get the money; but what is the value and purpose of suing for one person having used 2 lines of work? Can he not content himself with a reference to his name? I personally would not dream to ask people to pay to use my work, as long as my name is visible somewhere, and there is no commercial exploitation of my work (i.e. the idea is the fundamental basis of a new machine or service). “Professor Uses Copyright Threats After Joke Commercial Uses Some Of His Lecture” 26 December 2007 http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20071226/014929.shtml

About Audrey Guinchard

Senior Lecturer @ University of Essex (UK)
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