defending the right to innovate
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.
If you are interested in how open source produces great software without the benefit of copyright/patent protection, Michele and my article on the Freeman is now available.
... may get seriously hurt by the sword. Today, a California court ruled that Microsoft infringed a couple of Alcatel-Lucent patents on compression of MP3 files and awarded a $1.52 billion damage payment from MS to A-L.
This will not kill MS, but is may teach it a lesson or two. Maybe Bill will wake up from his monopolist's sleep rediscover the value of competing by inventing. Maybe he will recall his earlier statements about the software industry that would have never happened if copyrights and patents had been enforced back then, and he will donate a nice billion to a new Foundation working to free the world of one of the most dangerous man-made viruses, IP.
While we wait for the miracle to happen, let's smile at MS misfortunes and laugh at the following statement by the A-L's lawyer "We invented it, and everybody else is making money off of it."
Yup, someone invented reading and writing, my dear, and we are all making money out of it. It is called progress.
An earlier post asked if IP is affecting significantly income inequality. I do not have hard data to answer either way, and I guess it will take a long while before we get any. Still, my intuition says "yes", and probably significantly. But it takes a lot of "ifs" and "assumes" to argue it, so better leave it for a future date.
What IP certainly does is to increase the personal political power of IP monopolists beyond anything we had ever seen before, even in the "good old days" of the robber barons.
Today we learn that Bill Gates has the power of freeing or keeping people in jail for years in countries as far away as Russia. The press worldwide is reporting that Mikhail Gorbachev has pleaded with him (BG) to spare some obscure school teacher in the Ural region 5 (five) years of Siberian labor camp. When will a court of miracles open up in Seattle for the worldwide roi thaumaturge of the globalization era?
Via Slashdot we find IBM suing Amazon for patent infringement. One of the downsides of the patent system is that people genuinely think they invented something new (Amazon) so they think they should be entitled to sue anyone who does anything vaguely similar (Barnes and Noble) - and they are outraged that anyone would suggest (IBM) that maybe what they invented wasn't really so new. People tend to be very proprietary about their ideas, rarely recognizing the extent to which the build on and incorporate other ideas. Is it utopian to suggest that instead of IBM sues Amazon, sues someone else, sues IBM - maybe we should just get rid of patents? Shifting money around in circles doesn't enhance incentives to innovate, and the court system has not proven a very effective method of resolving disputes over intellectual credit.
The issue of software patents, particularly in regards to open source software, is increasingly contentious. According to Information Week,
The opponents of proliferating software patents who see them as a threat to open source software may finally get their day in court--the U.S. Supreme Court.
The full Information Week article can be read here
And stay tuned.
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.
A talk by Paul Graham at Google about whether software patents are evil. One concern he has is whether in a world where patents are legal firms should patent things. Like Graham I would have a hard time advising anyone not to take advantage of the law as it exists - especially since if you don't take out defensive patents you are a potential victim. The talk is hardly a ringing endorsement of patents as a matter of public policy, though. First, he provides some insight into what sort of companies file patent lawsuits (as opposed to filing patents)
A company that sues competitors for patent infringement is like a a defender who has been beaten so thoroughly that he turns to plead with the referee. You don't do that if you can still reach the ball, even if you genuinely believe you've been fouled. So a company threatening patent suits is a company in trouble.The main case against patents is that they don't work terribly well in encouraging innovation - the reason for having them in the first place. Graham apparently agrees
In the software business I know from experience whether patents encourage or discourage innovation, and the answer is the type that people who like to argue about public policy least like to hear: they don't affect innovation much, one way or the other. Most innovation in the software business happens in startups, and startups should simply ignore other companies' patents. At least, that's what we advise, and we bet money on that advice.
Most Recent Comments
Killing people with patents I'm not really commenting the post, but rather asking if this blog is going to make a comeback
at 01/09/2018 03:46 AM by Anonymous
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