Information Wants To Be Free


(permanent link) added: 2011-02-28 19:30:13 sponsor: JCCyC (last reply: 2011-07-16 05:51:41)

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The Evil Empire versus The Hero. (Or not.)

Alice has something she wants to share with the world. A scientific advancement, most often. She's going to go public and make the world, perhaps, a little better. Maybe it's the cure for a disease, a solution for world hunger or an abundant source of energy. Maybe it's of alien origin.

But... uh oh, Bob doesn't like it. You see, he has ties to a big business that stands to lose a lot if that invention is released to the general public. If only Alice wasn't so into this "free for everybody" nonsense, they could do some business exploiting the oppressed masses like he has been doing with much success so far. Alice must die, and her research with it.

It is the quest of the heroes to save Alice's precious information and release it before the Big Bad can usurp it or destroy it. In the process, they may find out there were those with similar discoveries who were Killed to Uphold the Masquerade.

Plots following this trope in Twenty Minutes into the Future (or Like Reality Unless Noted) settings tend to end with the villain realizing he Can't Stop The Signal even when he manages to stop the idealistic character.

Super Trope of Withholding the Cure. Compare Keeping Secrets Sucks. Contrast Digital Piracy Is Evil.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Sand Land concerns the efforts of the main characters to find an oasis in a world that's nothing but desert. They're opposed by the king and his government who control the only other source of water.
  • This is the reason for Laughing Man's struggle in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. A scientist found the cure for cyberbrain sclerosis (a phenomenon where people with electronic brain implants would have parts of their organic brains harden), but the evil corporation hid that fact from humanity so that they could continue selling expensive nanobot treatments that only hinder the plague's progress.

Comics

Film
  • In Unknown, the assassin's goal is to prevent the open-source release of a new variety of corn on behalf of agribusiness giants.
  • In Antitrust, the Big Bad Corrupt Corporate Executive acquires code for his Killer App through multiple crimes, up to and including murder. The good guys, upon exposing him, release the source code online, accompanied by an e-mail saying, "Human knowledge belongs to the world".
  • In Tron:Legacy, Sam Flynn stages an undercover operation to release the source code of Encom's operating system to the public (he's the main stockholder of the company, it's legal for him to do so).
  • The movie Johnny Mnemonic tells us about a man with a cybernetic brain implant designed to store information. The information he's hired to keep turns out to be the cure for a global disease, while Big Pharma thugs want to kill him so the cure won't be given to the public.

Literature

Live Action TV

Mythology
  • The Greek hero Prometheus stole the secret of making fire from the Olympian gods and, as you could say, put it in the public domain for all mortals to use. Zeus was not amused. He got better though.

Web Comics
  • Early on in Schlock Mercenary, the mercenaries are attacked repeatedly by the F'sherl Ganni Gatekeepers, due to experimenting with (and holding the patent for) the 'Terraport', a method of Faster-Than-Light Travel that far outstrips the unwieldy 'stargates' that got the F'sherl Ganni their name. Finally, Admiral Brea figures out that there's a way to stop the attacks: Release the Terraport into Open Source, essentially spreading the technology freely across the galaxy, and removing the Gatekeepers' reason to specifically target Targon's Toughs.

Needs More Examples I think we have a healthy number already. Enough people agreeing with the new title and I'll launch, mmmkay?
replies: 26

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