Free? What's So Special About Learning? The Intellectual Property Argument

John Willinsky

Abstract


The time has come to move the conversation about open access in scholarly publishing away from the futile debate between "Research has to be free" and "Someone has to pay for it." One way forward is to reach back to the history of learning. Learning has long been treated as being a distinct sort of intellectual property, set apart from, say, a Joni Mitchell song or a Margaret Atwood novel. This distinctiveness is rooted in how John Locke went on about property to such great effect; it has variously found its way into the law; and it seems to be missing from current debates over whether scholarly publications should be free or dear.


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