Hat tip: Roderick Long
defending the right to innovate
Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.
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Click here to see and hear Weird Al Yankovic's "Don't Download This Song." It's great!
Hat tip: Roderick Long
From the Associated Press today:
Every day, millions of students taking online college courses act in much the same way as their bricks-and-mortar counterparts. After logging on, they move from course to course and do things like submit work in virtual drop boxes and view posted grades - all from a program running on a PC.Read the rest here.
A Wall Street Journal ($$) editorial today warns that an obscure section of the old Smoot-Hawley tariff permits American companies to strike against their competitors by having the government block imports that allegedly infringe their patents. The Journal sees a threat to the mobile networks that depend on imported telephones. Here are some excerpts:
The peril comes from the International Trade Commission (ITC), an obscure federal agency that typically deals with trade but suddenly is telecom central. There are currently cases before the ITC affecting virtually every mobile-phone operator in the country and most of the largest handset makers in the world. Ericsson and Samsung have filed complaints against each other, and Qualcomm has sued Nokia. Broadcom, a chipmaker that owns patents for mobile-phone technology, has filed against Qualcomm, which supplies chips used in new phones sold by Verizon and Sprint.Oh, what a tangled web we weave....
The New York Times reports that Major League Baseball claims to own the commercial use of baseball statistics. If MLB prevails, unlicensed commercial fantasy-baseball operations would have to cease operation. Says the Times:
The dispute is between a company in St. Louis that operates fantasy sports leagues over the Internet and the Internet arm of Major League Baseball, which says that anyone using players' names and performance statistics to operate a fantasy league commercially must purchase a license. The St. Louis company counters that it does not need a license because the players are public figures whose statistics are in the public domain.... The case is scheduled for jury trial in United States District Court in St. Louis beginning Sept. 5. CBC and Major League Baseball Advanced Media filed motions for summary judgment that the court could rule on in July.MLB already licenses operations that use player photos and team logos. But according to the Times:
Major League Baseball Advanced Media, which runs its own array of fantasy games on the league's portal, MLB.com, has decreased its number of licensees from dozens in 2004 to 19 last season to 7 this year, focusing on large multimedia outlets like CBS SportsLine and cutting out many of the four-figure licenses that had covered smaller operators' use of only names and statistics. CBC, which had a license from 1995 to 2004, filed suit to confirm that it has the right to use those limited materials freely.Interestingly, baseball once took a different position:
When several major leaguers from the 1940's and 50's sued Major League Baseball over use of their names and statistics in materials like promotional videos and game programs, baseball argued that such use was protected by the First Amendment.Is any comment necessary?
Cross-posted at Free Association.
The maker of the BlackBerry wireless e-mail service, Research in Motion (R.I.M), has more patent troubles, and it's fighting back. I don't want to go over the full case against patents, or intellectual property (IP) rights in general, but I do want to restate a powerful argument made by others, such as N. Stephan Kinsella. Some pro-IP folks think it is self-evident that if someone originates an idea he has a natural right to control the manufacture and sale of devices that instantiate that idea. After all, he thought it up. He exerted creative effort. Property rights are said to flow from that creative exertion.
It can't be. No ownership rights flow from thinking, regardless of how important thinking is to production. Ownership flows from other factors, and there are no gaps in the emergence of property rights that have to be filled in by creative thinking. Using Occam's Razor, we just don't need mental effort to justify property rights.
To see this, imagine that Howard Roark's evil twin enters your land without permission and uses your building materials and tools to create an acclaimed and original architectural marvel never seen before. Does this Roark have any rights whatsoever to the building? Of course not. Not even a scintilla of a claim. Why not? Because he didn't own the land or the materials. No degree of creative genius could transfer ownership to him. (And he could not gain ownership by mixing his labor with already owned things.) The real owner has every right to destroy the building without paying Roark a penny.
On the other hand, if Roark had legitimately owned the land and materials, the creation would clearly be his. His prior ownership of the elements of his creation would be sufficient to justify his ownership of the building. Thinking up the ideas embodied in the product adds nothing as far as his property rights are concerned. Prior ownership or original appropriation of unowned resources is not merely necessary to property rights in a product, it is sufficient.
The point is not that thinking is unimportant, only that it is irrelevant to the generation of property rights.
Cross-posted at Free Association.
From today's New York Times:
Do not bother hitting the "reload" button or clearing the cache in your Web browser it will not help. Tuesday's hauntingly familiar headlines about a patent-infringement lawsuit against BlackBerry maker Research in Motion are, in fact, new. The lawsuit, filed by software company Visto, seeks to shut down the popular (and, for some, near-addictive) BlackBerry wireless e-mail service less than two months after a similar suit from patent holding company NTP was settled. . . . There is an important difference between the NTP suit and the latest suit against Research in Motion. Unlike NTP, an entity that lacked business operations, Visto actually competes with Research in Motion, as Forbes.com points out.Visto co-founder and senior vice president Daniel Mendez was quoted saying, "We're not seeking a royalty, we're seeking an injunction."
Keith Olbermann reported last night on MSNBC's "Countdown" that the new owner of 85 percent of Elvis Presley Enterprises intends to start licensing Elvis impersonators. No license, no impersonation. (Read about it here.) If this stands, it means that no one will be free, without permission, to dress in a particular way, grow one's hair and sideburns in a particular way, wear a particular kind of sunglasses, and sing particular songs in a particular style in public. "If we were going to do a show that was based on Elvis impersonators, then obviously it wouldn't make sense to have unauthorised Elvis impersonators," Robert Sillerman said.
Does someone want to argue that IP doesn't entail the violation of individiual liberty?
My latest column in The Freeman, the magazine I edit, summarizes Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine's chapter on the world pharmaceutical industry in their book, Against Intellectual Monopoly. The column is here (pdf).
From CNET News.com:
For the last few years, a coalition of technology companies, academics and computer programmers has been trying to persuade Congress to scale back the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.The bill would permit wiretapping in investigations and civil forfeiture penalties. The full article is here.
According to the Boston Herald, Royal Philips Electronics has filed a patent application for a device that would permit broadcasters to stop television viewers from channel surfing to avoid commericials. The channel would freeze up for the duration of the ads. Sounds pretty bad. But have no fear. According to the Herald, "The company also said it had no plans to use the technology in any of its products."
Most Recent Comments
The right to rub smooth using a hardened steel tool with ridges Finally got around to looking at the comments, sorry for delay... Replying to Stephan: I'm sorry
at 05/08/2015 08:35 AM by Dan Dobkin
Let's See: Pallas, Pan, Patents, Persephone, Perses, Poseidon, Prometheus... Seems like a kinda bizarre proposal to me. We just need to abolish the patent system, not replace
at 04/10/2015 10:44 AM by Stephan Kinsella
The right to rub smooth using a hardened steel tool with ridges I'm a bit confused by this--even if "hired to invent" went away, that would just change the default
at 04/10/2015 10:34 AM by Stephan Kinsella
Do we need a law? @ Alexander Baker: So basically, if I copy parts of 'Titus Andronicus' to a webpage without
at 01/08/2015 08:58 PM by Sheogorath
Do we need a law? The issue is whether the crime is punished not who punishes it. If somebody robs our house we do
at 11/17/2014 04:48 AM by David K. Levine
Do we need a law? 1. Plagiarism most certainly is illegal, it is called "copyright infringement". One very famous
at 10/29/2014 10:49 AM by Alexander Baker
Yet another proof of the inutility of copyright. The 9/11 Commission report cost $15,000,000 to produce, not counting the salaries of the authors.
at 09/20/2014 03:19 PM by Alexander Baker
WKRP In Cincinnati - Requiem For A Masterpiece P.S. The link to Amazon's WKRP product page:
at 06/28/2014 10:03 AM by Doris
WKRP In Cincinnati - Requiem For A Masterpiece Hopefully some very good news. Shout! Factory is releasing the entire series of WKRP in Cincinnati,
at 06/28/2014 10:00 AM by Doris
What's copywritable? Go fish in court. @ Anonymous: You misunderstood my intent. I was actually trying to point out a huge but basic
at 05/05/2014 01:03 PM by Sheogorath
Rights Violations Aren't the Only Bads I hear that nonsense from pro-IP people all the
at 04/07/2014 04:47 AM by Dan McCracken
Intellectual Property Fosters Corporate Concentration Yeah, I see the discouragement of working on a patented device all the time. Great examples
at 01/13/2014 06:13 AM by Anonymous
Music without copyright Hundreds of businessmen are looking for premium quality article distribution services that can be
at 11/28/2013 05:03 PM by Stephanie Smith
at 11/28/2013 09:23 AM by Anonymous
at 11/28/2013 09:22 AM by Anonymous
Patent Lawyers Who Don't Toe the Line Should Be Punished! Moreover "the single most destructive force to innovation is patents". We'd like to unite with you
at 11/24/2013 10:48 AM by SpaceCorp Technologies
at 11/20/2013 03:18 PM by Anonymous
Does the decline in total factor productivity explain the drop in innovation? So, if our patent system was "broken," TFP of durable goods should have dropped. Conversely, since
at 11/02/2013 08:09 PM by Anonymous
Does the decline in total factor productivity explain the drop in innovation? I wondered about TFP, because I had heard that TFP was increasing. Apparently, it depends on who
at 11/02/2013 08:08 PM by Anonymous
Music without copyright I do agree with all the ideas you have presented in your post. They are very convincing and will
at 09/23/2013 07:46 AM by audience response software