Although it is rarely directly addressed in Intellectual Properties of Learning, Willinsky's desire for the academic community to cultivate open access to scholarly materials can be felt consistently through the text. While his active advocacy for more open accessible scholarship is not the primary focus in this book, it is clearly a foundational motivation for its composition. By displaying the history of how we have gotten to a point where so much scholarship crucial for learning and academic publishing is behind a paywall, Willinsky illuminated the ethical problems present-day scholars are faced with and demonstrated that there was a point in time where these pay walls did not exist. Moreover, Willinsky's coverage of the Middle Ages motivates a sort of those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it implication for the text.
Although this book could quite effectively serve as a brief history of medieval and early modern academic writing in western civilization, the purpose has much more practical and present-day applications. With movements to support openly accessible scholarship and open source software, Willinsky’s history of intellectual property rights illuminated persistent issues that must be addressed and questions that must be answered if open accessibility is to become a field-wide standard. Although it is a moral approach, the topic, like most present-day issues, is more complicated than a simple right or wrong. As Willinsky suggested, scholars in previous centuries have wrestled with this matter to the best of their abilities. With the present-day state of technology, however, there is cause to reexamine the state of intellectual property rights and work towards an academic environment that prioritizes access to information. This is a call to arms of sorts that is not explicitly present in the text, but is undoubtedly on Willinsky's mind as one of if not the most important takeaway from this text. The text is worthy of reading regardless of discipline, as it addresses an issue that is not limited to any single academic discipline.
Fedora Project. (2010, May 14). Fedora 8 Wallpaper [Image]. Fedora Project. Retrieved Aug. 9, 2018, from https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/File:F8-wallpaper-day.png
Willinsky, John. (2018). The intellectual properties of learning: A prehistory from Saint Jerome to John Locke. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Willinsky, John. (2018). The intellectual properties of learning: A prehistory from Saint Jerome to John Locke. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. [Open access, digitally downloadable final draft]. Retrieved June 6, 2018, from https://intellectualproperties.stanford.edu/