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Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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Copyright must foster innovation, not just protect a right

It has never been clear to me how the growing criticism of copyright and patent law is faring. Not well, I would judge by the lack of coverage in widely read journals. At the same time, we are seeing more like this enteraining op-ed piece, titled "Fair Use, Art, Swiss Cheese and Me" in such widely read journals as the New York Times.

In this case, the author, a lawyer, meanders from a story of a photograph of himself which was transformed by another artist-photographer by putting a slice of cheese over his face. He then contrasts it with a case where a judge has repeatedly found such use violates the original photographer's copyright. He concludes that no harm was done to him or the photographer since the market for the original photo and the "altered" one was distinct and different; its creator lost nothing as the market for the original still existed, unchanged.

To riff on this story, the moral is that if no harm is done another party, no right has been violated. But the point of copyright and patents goes farther: it is to foster innovation. In this case, it appears that the judge construed copyright to be nothing more than the grant of the right to limit innovation.


Comments

The piece referred to is at https://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/17/opinion/sunday/fair-use-art-swiss-cheese-and-me.html

"It has never been clear to me how the growing criticism of copyright and patent law is faring."

Not clear to me either. I'd love to see data in either direction.

"But the point of copyright and patents goes farther: it is to foster innovation."

Here of all places, at least qualify as "the mythical point".

"It has never been clear to me how the growing criticism of copyright and patent law is faring."

Anecdotally speaking, it does seem that the criticism of copyright is increasing. However, there is little evidence that the criticism of patent rights is increasing. Indeed, in surveying a wide array of literature, it appears that support for patent rights is about what it has always been. Two kinds of patent rights do seem to have some level of criticism, those being business methods and software, but the criticism elsewhere appears stable or perhaps even decreasing.

One area that seemed quite contentious, relatively speaking, is drug patents. However, there seems to be relatively little criticism of drug patents of late. Perhaps several factors are in play with respect to drug patents. One factor is that more and more drugs are coming off patent, while fewer drugs are replacing them. Many, if not most, of the new drugs, are not "life-saving" drugs. Drug companies have made an effort to provide financial assistance to those unable to afford drugs. In Africa, where some drug companies were criticized because of the inavailability of certain drugs, that criticism is significantly reduced because the drugs are either available or are being stolen by bandits. It may also be that the huge controversy over the lack of availability of generic drugs has had an effect.

Yes John, Mike makes a good point. It seems you are allowing the monopolists' mantra to infiltrate your thinking. The PRETEXT behind the granting of monopolies is not the same as the motive, purpose, nor the consequence.

Anyone who thinks a general prohibition on the use of 'novel' designs will promote mankind's technological progress is a moron. Those who waste time complaining that there's at most only correlation between patents and progress, and no evidence of causation are being suckered - distracted from the elephantine abomination of the patent system itself.

And as for copyright protecting a right, wash your mouth out! Copyright (the Statute of Anne) annuls our right to copy to leave it by exclusion in the hands of a few. Consequently it is an instrument of injustice. Litigation protects copyright the privilege. Piracy re-asserts our right to copy.

See http://culturalliberty.org/blog/index.php?id=289

Hi, I came across your site and wasn't able to get an email address to contact you about a broken link on your site. Please email me back and I would be happy to point them out to you.

Thanks!

Joel JHouston791@gmail.com


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