defending the right to innovate
Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.
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My latest contribution on intellectual monopooly is "Slave Labor and Intellectual Property."
From the Wall Street Journal:
Apple sued Amazon.com over its use of the phrase "App Store," accusing the online retailer of trademark infringement.
Does Apple also own the words "app" and "store"?
The Daily Caller has an excellent article on the portrayal of intellectual property rights in the movie "The Social Network." Here's a quote:
"The Social Network" should also be celebrated for casting an intellectual property dispute as its central conflict and in doing so, chipping away at the legitimacy of modern intellectual property protections.
The attorney general of Connecticut is investigating whether e-book makers Apple and Amazon have engaged in pricing fixing with book publishers. In this article on the investigation, I am quoted saying:
Alleged price-fixing agreements in cases like this have but one source: the government's monopolistic grants to e-book makers and publishers through so-called intellectual property laws. In a fully free economy, where ideas cannot be locked up and competitors are free to enter the market, such agreements would have no force whatsoever.
From the BBC:
Earlier this week, a federal court in Sydney ruled that Men at Work had plagiarised Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree in its 1983 hit, Down Under.
This is beside the point, but I can't hear the similarity in the two patterns of notes. (One cannot actually own a pattern of notes. But one can get the government to stop others from using a pattern one claims to own.) You can listen to both at the BBC site.
The Christian Science Monitor published this response to David and Michele's op-ed (sorry if it's already been posted):
Reform, but don't destroy, patent law
In their commentary, "The patent system: End it, don't mend it," David K. Levine and Michael Boldrin propose wiping out centuries of Anglo-American legal heritage in intellectual property (IP) rights because they don't like some features of the current American patent system. This radical proposal is based on an erroneous understanding of patent law's history and the economics of innovation. It would be akin to tearing down a house because the hot water heater broke.
The Founders explicitly recognized the advantages of using intellectual property rights national in scope to replace the state-granted rights that existed under the Articles of Confederation. As James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 43 "[t]he utility of [the IP clause] will scarcely be questioned. The copyright of authors has been solemnly adjudged, in Great Britain, to be a right of common law. The right to useful inventions seems with equal reason to belong to the inventors. The public good fully coincides in both cases with the claims of individuals."
There is no question that patent law provides critical incentives for innovation. Without the potential economic rewards and ability to facilitate commercialization patents provide, who would invest the millions of dollars needed for the development of new drugs, medical equipment, and medical devices? It is thus patent-driven innovation that creates the drugs that Messrs. Levine and Boldrin claim are locked away from the world's poor. It would be sadly ironic if an effort to provide access to essential medicines by eliminating patent rights destroyed the system whose incentives yielded those medications.
Levine and Boldrin also misunderstand the point of the Constitution's IP Clause. The issue the IP Clause settled was not whether there should be patents and copyrights, but which government would provide them. The expensive litigation the state IP system had spawned in the 1780s persuaded the Founders to adopt a national system. Even Thomas Jefferson, initially the Founder most skeptical about intellectual property, quickly changed his views and played a prominent role in the early development of American patent law. The system worked: Americans were inventing and patenting at a rate that astonished European observers within a few decades of the first patent act.
While the heart of the incentive provided by patents is restricting others from using an inventor's invention, this right to exclude is limited in time and scope. As a result, it balances rewarding early innovators and enabling later ones to create improvements. Patents' limited scope means they rarely provide their owners with an economic monopoly as there are almost always viable substitutes. Nor are patents "simply a ticket to lifelong litigation against a giant," as only 1.5 percent of patents are litigated.
Patents also provide more than incentives for innovation. Recent studies of start-up companies reveal that patents can play an important role in securing venture capital, capturing revenue through licensing, and enhancing reputational value. And patents serve as coordination tools among private parties, thus preventing many of the problems Levine and Boldrin identify.
For example, in information technology and life sciences, patent holders engage in considerable licensing activity, privately solving the problem of access. A recent National Academies of Science survey concluded that in both ‘‘the number of projects abandoned or delayed as a result of technology access difficulties is reported to be small" and that few investigators had to "revise their protocols to avoid intellectual property complications or pay high costs to obtain access to intellectual property.''
Patent law can undoubtedly be improved. But destroying widely held and valuable property rights in pursuit of short-term gains would truly be a case of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. Neither the American economy nor the world's poor could afford such an ill-conceived up-rooting of rights deeply embedded in Anglo-American jurisprudence.
Craig A. Nard, Professor of Law, Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, Ohio
Andrew P. Morriss, Professor of Law & Business, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Urbana, Ill.
From BBC News:
Hacker cracks Kindle's copyright
An Israeli hacker claims to have broken the copyright protection on Amazon's Kindle e-reader, reports say.
The hack will allow the ebooks stored on the reader to be transferred as pdf files to any other device.
The hacker, known as Labba, responded to a challenge posted on Israeli hacking forum, hacking.org.
It is the latest in a series of Digital Rights Management hacks, the most famous being the reverse engineering of iTunes.
The Kindle e-book reader has been very successful since it was launched in the US in 2007.
Amazon hopes to have sold a million devices by the end of the year.
It leaves it to individual publishers whether they want to apply DRM but books in its main proprietary format .azw, cannot be transferred to other devices.
It did not immediately respond to the news but it is likely it will attempt to patch its DRM software.
DRM has long divided opinion. While rights holders regard it as a crucial tool to protect copyright, consumers tend to hate it because it limits what can be done with content.
"DRM is not an effective way of preventing copying nor is it a good way of making sales. There isn't a customer out there saying 'what I need is an electronic book that does less," novelist and co-editor of the Boing Boing blog Cory Doctorow told the BBC when the Kindle was launched.
As soon as a new DRM system is active, hackers begin to try and break it.
Most famously Jon Lech Johansen, known as DVD Jon, cracked the copy protection on DVDs in 1999.
He went on to break the copyright protection on iTunes, leading Apple to offer DRM-free music.
DVD Jon now runs a company with an application to take the pain out of moving different types of content between devices.
David Pogue of the New York Times reports:
This morning, hundreds of Amazon Kindle owners awoke to discover that books by a certain famous author had mysteriously disappeared from their e-book readers. These were books that they had bought and paid -- for thought they owned.
As reported in the LA Times' technology blog, the launch of Antigua-based media download site Zookz has raised the ire of the US trade commission as well as the RIAA and MPAA. However, according to the company, Zookz is permitted by the World Trade Organization under a loophole copyright sanction. You read that correctly. The US trade commission and the RIAA / MPAA is challenging Zookz the pirate with the WTO in its corner. Imagine the cage match.The rest is here.
Most Recent Comments
Catching Up The Ruth Lewis post is interesting, but incomplete. The very economies that are supposedly
at 01/31/2013 07:21 AM by Anonymous
Canada - A Copyright Year in Review Hello. I don't like copyright law but I don't think it will go away in my life. I started a
at 01/02/2013 04:58 AM by Sabrina
Canada - A Copyright Year in Review Regarding the Copyright Act revision, let it be known that there was substantial opposition to the
at 12/28/2012 06:57 AM by Byte
From the Trenches Innovative remarks indeed. Cecil Quillen suggests the system needs to be modified, which I think
at 12/21/2012 06:18 PM by Anonymous
The golden age of beer innovation ""Perhaps the first reason [for the rate of patenting] is that during this period the rate of
at 12/20/2012 05:46 PM by Anonymous
Obama Transition Team Member on Holy cow. None of Your Beeswax is a Canadian (Laurier Optical is Canadian only). You don't even
at 12/19/2012 06:08 PM by Anonymous
The golden age of beer innovation Adam_Smith: Until the latter half of the 19th century, corporations routinely filed for patents,
at 12/19/2012 04:54 PM by Brewing Is Fun
The golden age of beer innovation It would seem from the account given in the previous comment that it was innovation that stimulated
at 12/19/2012 04:04 AM by Adam_Smith
Would books be published without copyright? taxpayer: "The Wealth of Nations" went through five editions in the first 13 years of publication,
at 12/05/2012 08:31 AM by Anonymous
Would books be published without copyright? I was wondering whether free-market advocate Adam Smith made much money from his books. On-line
at 12/04/2012 09:59 AM by taxpayer
Open Book Publisher Great work! Here's my quick review of the book: It seems to me that behavioral economists
at 11/27/2012 08:38 PM by Aaron Wolf
250000 Patents for Smartphone Technology Hi. Sorry for posting here as I cannot see a contact us section. How can I contact you? I have
at 11/27/2012 10:17 AM by Thomas Stringer
The golden age of beer innovation With respect to the beer innovation paper, I have to wonder whether the authors were overly focused
at 11/23/2012 08:31 AM by Brewing Is Fun
The golden age of beer innovation With respect to Christian's comment that "there was rapid innovation without recourse to patents,"
at 11/21/2012 03:16 PM by Beer Innovation
250000 Patents for Smartphone Technology I have seen several analysts who believe that the number of patents in this area indicate that our
at 10/24/2012 08:40 AM by Anonymous
Would books be published without copyright? Gael: I would be curious as to how much copyright litigation is costing. I have never seen any
at 10/19/2012 01:12 PM by Anonymous
Would books be published without copyright? I think it's going to evolve towards a better system with or without copyright. Right now copyright
at 10/19/2012 11:46 AM by Gael N.
Patents and Secrecy Of course patents are not the "only" answer. That is just plain dumb. There are multiple business
at 10/13/2012 08:47 AM by Anonymous
Open Book Publisher Thanks for the great book, and for making it free culture. It's worth mentioning that they don't
at 10/12/2012 04:41 PM by Chris Sakkas
What the New York Times Should Have Asked What is the patent number for the
at 10/09/2012 08:44 AM by Anonymous