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Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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Business Method Patents

The political economy of IP is very revealing. In Steal This Idea, I described how the US support for copyrights shifted when the US became a stronger producer from being a stronger net consumer.

When the economy weakens, IP is often used as a means to ratchet up profits.

As far as business methods are concerned, it began with State Street -- a banking patent. Now that others are able to challenge the financial moguls, finance turns against protection.

The rank opportunism of IP and the political hacks who support the various interest groups is appalling.


Comments

There is a very deep seated sociological phenomenon associated with the statement that: "The political economy of IP is very revealing.". That is when a people/society/economy are "young", rules be dammed. But as people/society/economy "mature" and begin to have a vested interest in protecting assets they become increasingly protective.

While this sociological phenomenon is well known and documented, the political/business leaders seem to dismiss the evolutionary trend as a factor in their decisions. Consequently, we have increasing police-state like laws unreasonably protecting things like so-called "intellectual property".

Copyright and patent law, as they exist now, seem to be more about being a toll-booth to collect revenue than fostering creativity. If one looks at the arguments being made by the "strong" IP crowd it is now more about protecting the creator, not contributing new content for the benefit of society.

If our political/business leaders truly recognized the importance of creativity they would recognize that our legal system must encourage having a "young" society.

Steve R.:

Do I misunderstand your statements? You seem to imply that patents and copyrights are somehow new in the world, or the United States. Patents and copyrights date back to ancient times, and in the United States nearly to its founding, when it was "young."

The "copyrights" back when the US was young lasted for 14 years and basically only covered books, and then only verbatim copies. There was none of this evergreen-copyrights nonsense, nor "movie rights", nor sound recording copyrights, nor could a copyright holder bar an unauthorized sequel to his book even within the copyright term, nor ...
My comments are NOT concerned with the "age" of copyright/patents. What I am talking about is the "age" of corporations, creators, and people in general going from a state of innovation to a state of protecting the status quo. As protecting the status quo has become more important, the original intent of copyright/patents has been debased into one of protection rather than innovation.

Microsoft when it was "young" was innovative. As Microsofthas "aged" it has become more concerned with protecting its turf (product line) than in continued innovation. Laws such as the Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)are examples of how so-called "intellectual property" is being made evermore oppressive to protect the creator to the exclusion of society.

The corporate and political leaders of our country need to recognize this sociological phenomenon and have the insight not to pass oppressive laws such as the Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) are not passed.


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