We live in an information society, and, resultantly, significant attention is devoted to ensure ‘‘information-based
rights’’ are protected among other essential human rights. Fostering and protecting information-based rights is
essential to human well being, and the traditional strategies to support these rights focus on ensuring free and
unfettered access to information, such as the right to education, the freedom to read, or providing for fair use
of copyright-protected works. While ensuring informational goods and services are accessible is necessary for
participation in our contemporary information society, we argue, however, that given the complexity of our
information environment, additional factors must be considered within any information-based rights framework.
Building on Amartya Sen’s capability approach, we suggest that individuals’ ability to access and use information
is influenced by their relative capabilities. Those advocating for information-based rights – such as the
free software, access to knowledge, and open access movements – must adjust their focus to include not only
achieving access, but also the fostering of human capabilities.