Just a note that anyone interested in the issues of intellectual property and the Internet could usefully look at JSTOR: A history by Roger Schonfeld. JSTOR was the first big attempt to put complete series of academic journals (including back issues) online and free. Despite a lot of missteps, JSTOR survived and prospered while well-funded commercial ventures failed. I’m pleased to say the economics profession played a prominent role, with the American Economic Review, Econometrica and others being among the early participants.
The success of JSTOR is an illustration of the proposition, put forward most clearly by Clay Shirky that the economics of the Internet favour the free provision of content by those seeking fame (taken generally to include anyone who has something to say and wants others to read it) over fee-based content created by those seeking fortune.
fn1. Quite a few commentators over at Crooked Timber have pointed out that JSTOR isn’t free or easily accessible to individuals, though it is non-profit and the charges for library subscriptions are modest – less than a single commercial journal in many cases.