Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Philosophy of IP

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.

Copyright Notice: We don't think much of copyright, so you can do what you want with the content on this blog. Of course we are hungry for publicity, so we would be pleased if you avoided plagiarism and gave us credit for what we have written. We encourage you not to impose copyright restrictions on your "derivative" works, but we won't try to stop you. For the legally or statist minded, you can consider yourself subject to a Creative Commons Attribution License.


The Social Web

Nicholas Gruen has a post about social interaction and the web 2.0. I'm doubtful that creation and innovation can ever be a purely social enterprise (I'm an economist after all) - but it would be a mistake to underestimate the strength of free software type approaches to knowledge. While the core workers are well-paid, creation benefits enormously from the contributions of volunteers. The ability to tap into those who work for love rather than money as well as those who work for money is a great strength of the non-IP model of creative innovation.


Thanks for the reference David. I wasn't seeking to argue that it's all love - not by any means. Rather I was arguing it was self interest, only it's a richer kind of self interest than is usually contemplated. It certainly includes profit seeking, but there's lots else besides. I don't even have a particularly lofty view of the non-profit seeking stuff. A lot of the drive behind wikipedia is know-alls I suspect. But we benefit from it.

Software development is a rather interesting activity that appears less amenable to copyright and patent protection than nearly any other field. Whereas various researchers, including Moser, have noted that patents do provide economic benefits in a number of areas, one thing that every paper I have read relating to intellectual property has in common is that software does not benefit from intellectual property. Indeed, there are well-supported reports that indicate that all software would eventually be developed regardless of the existence of patents (note that there is no other field of endeavor where this statement appears to be true).

It's not love, it's compulsion. I know that I can't walk past a guitar or keyboard without either playing it or longing to play it. If there's a computer handy, a song gets written and something gets recorded (which I then put up on the Internet for free). I don't love it though.

There are a lot of people like me.

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Some history

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