Extending The Spectrum Of Openness To Include The Moral Right To Share

Glyn Moody | Techdirt | August 13, 2013

from the now-there's-a-thought dept

Prefixing concepts with the epithet "open" has become something of a fashion over the last decade. Beginning with open source, we've had open content, open access, open data, open science, and open government to name but a few. Indeed, things have got to the point where "openwashing" -- the abuse of the term in order to jump on the openness bandwagon -- is a real problem. But a great post by David Eaves points out that the spectrum of openness actually extends well beyond the variants typically encountered in the West:

While sharing and copying technologies are disrupting some of the ways we understanding "content," when you visit a non-Western country like India, the spectrum of choices become broader. There is less timidity wrestling with questions like: should poor farmers pay inflated prices for patented genetically-engineered seeds? How long should patents be given for life-saving medicines that cost more than many make in a year? Should Indian universities spend millions on academic journals and articles? In the United States or other rich countries we may weigh both sides of these questions -- the rights of the owner vs. the moral rights of the user -- but there's no question people elsewhere, such as in India, weigh them different given the questions of life and death or of poverty and development.

Consequently, conversations about open knowledge outside the supposedly settled lands of the "rich" often stretch beyond permission-based "fair use" and "creative commons" approaches. There is a desire to explore potential moral rights to use "content" in addition to just property rights that may be granted under statutes.