Tech History

Reporting on the business of technology, startups, venture capital funding, and Silicon Valley.
Myth or Reality: Internet is Free

In the recent past, the internet has become a common technology among computer users. Both the young and the elderly go online to find either academic materials or any other materials that interests them. For this reason, it is clear that it offers help to many and hence the large number of people using the internet.

However, there is the question of whether the internet is free (Fisher, 2010). With the large number of people flocking in the internet, it must be erroneous to assume that the internet is free. On the other hand, many individuals assume that the internet is free and always appreciate its value and existence (Akerlof & Shiller, 2010).

Apart from the aspect of the internet being free, it is under control by the private industries and individuals who aim at maximizing profits. Barbrook (2005), however, believes that the internet does not make sense to capitalism (Howley, 2010). In this essay, the point of the internet being free and not making sense to capitalist will be in extensive discussion.

The internet has a great transformation on individuals and businesses due to the large and credible information. In most cases, individuals have been opposing capitalism but in reality, economic systems are likely to coexist and this brings development to the economy and living standards of individuals (Brogan, 2003).

It is easy for people to access the internet through their mobile devices and even at home with their computers. Due to the accessibility of the internet and the readily available information, they simply assume that the internet is free (Gauntlett, 2000). Use of the internet is not mandatory to any individual but they do it voluntarily. For people to access the internet, they should or must subscribe to voluntary payments in order to get the intangible services in terms of information.

Through the voluntary payments from the voluntary individuals, it is true that the internet is not free and contributes to the growth of the economy indirectly (Fuchs, 2010). In the genesis of the internet, it was purely an educational resource centre but currently it serves many purposes from educational, entertainment, recreational, and a social avenue.

With this in mind, it is correct to indicate that the internet is free for a fee that is the voluntary individuals can pay or subscribe to a certain fee in order to access the internet (Giddens, Duneier, Appelbaum & Carr, 2000).

From the payment of service fee with the different ways, it is evident that the internet is not free but rather a gift to the economy. Google is a good example of a company that offers internet services to its clients (Bullen & Parsons, 2007). Through the internet services that they offer, they are able to make profits that enhance them pay their employees and develop the organization.

From the fair and affordable charges that the company does not directly charge the internet users, clearly shows that internet is not free (Illouz, 2007). The internet is not only beneficial to the individual internet users but also to the businesses. Businesses can greatly benefit from the internet through use of the internet to advertise their products and services to the consumers. Through the internet, they are able to expand on their businesses and satisfy their customers (Kogut & Metiu, 2001).

Although there are charges for using the internet, the services that organizations and materials that individuals acquire is much worth. Therefore, comparing the information the individuals and businesses acquire, it is fair if we state that internet is free. Through the information from the internet, individuals and companies are able to improve on their status and for this reason; the internet is much worthy than these users pay (Lakhani & Von Hippel, 2003).

From the great benefits that the internet users acquire, they are able to improve the economy through other activities away from the internet. The methods that the individuals pay for them to access the internet is through corporate bodies that generate income through this media and convert the income towards economic growth.

Through sharing of information at very low and affordable costs, the internet providers highly contribute at encouraging other organizations to provide services freely or at lower affordable costs (Mascaro, 2014). The offering of services to consumers at affordable costs will encourage more users to use the avenue hence adding on the economic value. Taking into consideration the cost of service of the internet providers and the service that they provide, internet is free. For many years, people have been enjoying the information on offer without strain (Sammes, Harrison & Taylor, 2009).

Barbrook (2005), further argues that the internet does not make sense to the capitalists. Arguably, he is correct to some point since there are no tangible rewards from offering of the internet. Due to this, there have been less investors or capitalists in the investment.

Since the rewards are intangible, the ability to change the rewards into tangible lies with them and, therefore, very important to the growth of the economy (McChesney, 2013). With the high production of information to the public at low cost, it encourages reciprocal of the information.

Therefore, it will be proper to state that the internet is a free source and gift to the economy. However, to the entrepreneurs and capitalists, the internet does not seem to make sense due to the low costs scares them away (Veale, 2005).

Barbrook (2005), is correct when he states that the internet is not free. If the internet were free, there would be a specific code where everyone would be able to access without any charges. In reality, these do not happen but users subscribe to various methods of payment where they do not see it as charge for accessing the internet.

Additionally, if the internet was free, it would be easier for professionals to include it in the free operating system but this is impossible (Papacharissi, 2002). It is impossible since the internet is not a free program and there must be a service charge for accessing the program or service. When referring to a free program, cost should not be the issue but the freedom to use the program (Fligstein, 2002).

Without the freedom, it is impossible to consider the internet free, since one is not able to change the rules or terms of the internet unless the providers themselves. The lack of freedom automatically disqualifies the internet as a free program. On the other hand, it will be correct to refer the internet as a free program. Normally a program is free if it is a public domain and so is the internet (Sammes, Harrison & Taylor, 2009).

Therefore, Barbrook (2005) is wrong in claiming that the internet is not a free program. The internet is contrary to the private software where it is only accessible to a selected few and the public cannot access it. Accessibility of any program does not mean that it is free but the freedom that the users has. The internet is a free program since from its release, every user has the freedom to check on whatever material they wish or whatever interests them (Stallman, 2002).

In addition, the internet in the recent years appears to be a commercial free program. In saying so, this means that the program is not proprietary and, therefore it is a free program and an economy that does not make sense to capitalism. It does not make sense in that capitalists do not see the reason of investing in the internet since it yields little or no returns (Howley, 2010).

From another perspective, it is clear that the internet is not a free software or program. For a program to be free, it should have free redistribution that is it should not restrict any party from selling or giving away the software or program. The case is not the same with the internet as no one can sell or give away the program.

Additionally, free software and programs tends to allow others to modify it and distribute it (Streeter, 2010). With the internet, from the time it came to existence, no one have been able or acquired the rights to modify and redistribute it other than the original developers. Free in other words should mean that it is free to everyone and that anyone can access to the program without any hindrances.

However, many people in the world have never had access to the internet and have no knowledge of the program. A similar case is that of Chalatenango in the year 2009 where the children had seen no computer in their lives and therefore had no access to the internet. Taking all the above into consideration, it is evident that the internet is not a free (Barbrook, 2005).

Barbrook (2005), suggests that internet is an economy that does not make sense to capitalism. From the time the internet came into existence many saw it as the end of capitalism. Due o the birth of the internet, there was a huge increase in socialism. The rise of the internet saw the growth in the willingness of people to share ideas and the way that people behave (Rhoades  & Slaughter, 2004).

However, considering the influence of the internet to the society, it is clear that the internet is hardly the threat to capitalism. However, according to various intellectuals, internet is the solution to development and change in the thinking of many (Tao, 2003).

With the internet, it is easy for individuals and organizations to access materials easily hence making it easy for them to change the economy and transform the appearance of the society. In the recent past, capitalism has slowly been adapting to technology and the internet has a great impact on the same (Arvidsson & Colleoni, 2012).

For this reason, it will be incorrect to state that the internet does not make sense to capitalism. With the existence of the internet, capitalists are able to make their products and services to the public freely. Therefore, the internet is a free-gift to the economy that fosters fast growth of economies and living standards of different individuals (Terranova, 2000).

Although there have been arguments that socialism kills capitalism, it is evident that the two systems can coexist in many ways. In many ways, the internet is the engine of capitalism as it offers a platform to capitalists to flourish their skills and enhance growth in their organizations. Through the internet, capitalists freely interact with their consumers and even new customers through question and answer (Ritzer & Jurgenson, 2010).

The process helps them in achieving customer needs and wants that help them attain customer satisfaction. In other words, the internet is a ready platform that helps capitalists meet with other capitalists and exchange their ideas with no hindrances. Coexistence of the two systems is possible in the internet since the charges are affordable and the benefits are immeasurably great (Zizek, 1997).

Since capitalists can offer products and services online freely to consumers, it is, therefore, clear that there are other means that the consumers make payments for these products and services. From this, it is evident that the internet is a great encourager of the spirit of capitalism. Due to these facts, many capitalists lately have been going online in an attempt to expand and diversify their businesses. It is therefore, incorrect to say that the internet economy does not make sense to capitalism (Ghosh, 2005).


Conclusively, it is evident that the internet is not free as many view it. With the inability of others to sell or give away the program to others apart from the original developers is a clear indication that the program is not free.

In addition, the users do not have the freedom that defines a free program 0ther than access to the program. Low cost or price does not qualify any program to be free and, therefore, the internet is not free (Barbrook, 2005). On the contrary, the internet is an economy that makes sense to capitalism.

Although in the past, people have been viewing online activities as a threat to capitalism, it is clear that is not the case. Internet activities promote capitalism as capitalists can exchange ideas with fellow capitalists online. Additionally, they are able to make their products and services available to the communities or the public hence expanding and diversifying the businesses. Considering the above, the internet, therefore, makes sense to capitalism (Lacka et al.,2014).


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