The Myth of Odin's Eye: Privacy vs. Knowledge

11 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2009

See all articles by Paolo Guarda

Paolo Guarda

University of Trento - Faculty of Law

Date Written: July 11, 2009


The digital world quite often presents conflicting relations. We have already got used to argue about privacy vs. security, privacy vs. intellectual property and so on. There is another dichotomy that needs to be taken into account: privacy vs. knowledge. In the information society, but actually all the time in human history, knowledge represents a sort of treasure that gives a great power to the owner. Whether we are dealing with the fruition of intellectual works protected by property rules (i.e. IP law) or we are describing Open Access, and apparently free of charge, models, there is always a price we are paying. Thus, the paper is aimed to answer this specific question: what are we willing to give up in order to have access to knowledge? Or rather: are we really aware of the cost of our access to knowledge, particularly in the digital context and despite the outward gratuitousness of the provided service? Starting from an interesting similitude with a Nordic legend, the following pages will analyze the issues related to the use of Digital Rights Management systems, suited to incorporate intellectual property rules, with respect to the several dimensions of privacy; then, the problematic aspects of Open Access will be taken into account, with particular attention on their impact on users’ privacy. In the end, pulling the strings of the matter together, the paper will provide some final remarks on the relationship between privacy and knowledge in the digital context.

Keywords: open access, personal data, privacy, profiling, legal information

JEL Classification: K10

Suggested Citation

Guarda, Paolo, The Myth of Odin's Eye: Privacy vs. Knowledge (July 11, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

Paolo Guarda (Contact Author)

University of Trento - Faculty of Law ( email )

+39 0461 223515 (Phone)


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