Stewart Brand, spoken at the first Hackers’ Conference, and reprinted in the May 1985 Whole Earth Review. The quotation is an elaboration from his book, The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT, published in 1987.
Information wants to be free. Information also wants to be expensive. Information wants to be free because it has become so cheap to distribute, copy, and recombine - too cheap to meter. It wants to be expensive because it can be immeasurably valuable to the recipient. That tension will not go away. It leads to endless wrenching debate about price, copyright, ‘intellectual property’, the moral rightness of casual distribution, because each round of new devices makes the tension worse, not better.