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The Value and Price of Information Commodities: An Assessment of the South Korean Controversy

Revitalizing Marxist Theory for Today's Capitalism

ISBN: 978-1-78052-254-8, eISBN: 978-1-78052-255-5

ISSN: 0161-7230

Publication date: 7 November 2011

Abstract

This chapter attempts to theorize the role of knowledge in the determination of the value of commodities. This draws from the South Korean controversy on the value and price of information commodities such as computer software and digital music. One group of writers has argued that the value of software copies (=commodities) is contributed by the labor time expended to produce the source code (=knowledge) in a piecemeal fashion. For another group, the source code has nothing to do with the production of the value of copies given that the source code is unnecessary for the (re)production of copies, and thus the value of software copies is approximately zero and its price is a high monopoly price. Both approaches are flawed. In the case of the former, no value can actually be transferred from the source code to copies because no changes are made to the source code before or after the production of copies. In case of the latter, knowledge is viewed as having nothing to do with value production. On the basis of this critique, an alternative view is put forward, in which knowledge plays an important role in value production by determining the productivity and/or complexity of labor. Knowledge “virtually intensifies” labor. It is also argued that intellectual property rights should be theorized in a way to refine and reproduce the role of knowledge – the virtual intensification of labor – at more complex and concrete levels of analysis.

Citation

Jeon, H. (2011), "The Value and Price of Information Commodities: An Assessment of the South Korean Controversy", Zarembka, P. and Desai, R. (Ed.) Revitalizing Marxist Theory for Today's Capitalism (Research in Political Economy, Vol. 27), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 191-222. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0161-7230(2011)0000027009

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited