Tuesday, June 11, 2002

IP stuff (link-o-rama) Send this entry to: Del.icio.us Spurl Ma.gnolia Digg Newsvine Reddit

IP stuff (link-o-rama) Although it doesn't quite fit in with the "Gene Expression" theme, one of my pet causes is intellectual property. My (yet unproven) belief is that the costs of IP monopolies and the costs of enforcement (DMCA, SSSCA/CBDTPA, patent abuse, trademark threats, etc...) have progressed to the point where they far outweigh the benefits of IP, most of which could be achieved through different business models in the absence of legal IP rights. My opposition to IP actually started back during my hardcore libertarian days, when I decided that intellectual property rights were inconsistent with libertarian principles. Eventually I decided that libertarian principles might be good rules of thumb, but were a poor basis for trying to build a consistent worldview. (This was part of learning to think like an economist.) Nonetheless, most of the arguments against IP carry over, and the so Economics of IP is #1 on my research agenda. I don't have all the answers yet (the economics of drug development is a minor sticking point), but I'm always thinking about them. Anyway, I'm not trying to produce an autobiography but just to explain where I'm coming from when I post IP-related links and thoughts. -- Now, I've been watching the RIAA/MPAA reaction to new file-sharing and duplication technologies with a strange mixture of fear and amusement. Both industries are faced with the imminent collapse of their business models, and rather than adapting they're trying (and -- thankfully -- so far failing) to prop them up with draconian new laws. There are far too few mainstream news articles that "get it," so I was happy to see this BusinessWeek piece, which is more sensible than most:
I don't know about the law. And I surely don't understand the technology. But I do know this: It's very bad business to treat your customers as the enemy. [...] [New technology] is, to [the entertainment industry], something to stop at all costs, whether through the courts or Congress. In effect, they're telling their customers: "We'll stop you from doing what you want. We won't sell it to you, and we'll make it illegal for anyone else to provide it."
Customers want on-demand internet music downloads; time-shifting, commercial-zapping personal video recorders; customized filler-free music CDs; and highly-personalized, customizable radio stations. In each case the entertainment industry could -- by adapting new business models -- give customers what they want and preserve (part of) their revenue streams. But in each case the reaction has been to label the customers and technology providers as criminals. And I'm afraid it's only going to get worse. -- "We now return you to your regular human-biodiversity-related programming."

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