Against Monopoly

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.

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How to Finance Movies

Not possible without copyright, right?

Another take

Support from a higher source.

Probably we just need better people

Via Dave Backus...with some delay. In brief: some poor guy making t-shirts saying "Eat More Kale" is getting sued by a large restaurant chain whose slogan is "Eat Mor Chikin".

Public Knowledge

John Bennett draws our attention to Public Knowledge (.org). They "preserve... the openness of the Internet and the public's access to knowledge; promote... creativity through balanced copyright; and uphold.. and protect... the rights of consumers to use innovative technology lawfully". In the wake of SOPA/PIPA they have started the internet blueprint an effort to crowdsource legislative proposals to protect internet freedoms.

Public Knowledge supports "balanced copyright." I do not: I do not think that any copyright serves the purposes of advancing science and the useful arts laid out in the U.S. Constitution or that it serves any useful economic purpose. However - I'd much rather have balanced copyright than what we have now so I'm delighted to see support Public Knowledge in their effort to take back our internet freedoms.

It's my word, don't you dare use it.

We make jokes on this blog about what would happen if every word was under copyright and every time you wrote something you had to get a license for each word. So look at Mike Masnick's post over on Techdirt. People make collages of photographs; the individual photographers are mad because they own the individual pictures. The point is: this should be fair use because it is transformative. A collage is an original and transformative use of pictures the same way an essay is an an original and transformative use of words. So this is what we have come to. I could say the same about sampling in music. I guess we must count our blessings and be grateful that language was invented before copyright.

SOPA/PIPA and ??

This domain closure stuff is seriously bad news. If the report is to believed a site that provides online forms to hundreds of thousands of users was cut off by their internet provider (Go Daddy - well they were idiots for using Go Daddy for DNS services) at the request of the Secret Service who were investigating something or other - and investigating so hard that they promised they'd look into the site closure in a few days.

If every government bureaucrat (not to speak of those from the MPAA and RIAA) can close down a site with hundreds of thousands of users for a few days because of alleged bad behavior by one of those users we are in deep trouble.

Look, suppose somebody committed telephone fraud in the State of North Dakota. Would that justify shutting down all telephone service in North Dakota while the fraud was investigated? How well would the economy function if we allowed this sort of thing?

The Problem With Liberals

The blinders we put on when we look to government to solve all problems is frightening. As witness Kevin Drum. He's the kind of a middle-of-the-road liberal with whom I often agree. He is also literate about computers and the internet. But he's basically willing to let the government kill the goose that laid the golden egg on spec that there really is a problem with piracy and the government might really be able to do something about it. A decade of evidence is dismissed as "digital IP enforcement ... going through ... growing pains."

Let me reiterate the central point about DRM. The fight is over controlling the content on our computers. Even with complete physical control and administrative authority we are unable to prevent unwanted material (spam, viruses) from appearing on our computers. What are the chances that a third party (the RIAA, the MPAA) can successfully keep material that we want but they don't (pirated music and movies) off of our computers?

Or let me put it this way. I don't run virus checkers on any of my computers because they never find real viruses, but they make the computer unusable. They pop up constant annoying false alarms, they are always demanding to be upgraded, and if you are foolish enough to agree, they download a bunch of garbage then crash the computer. If you do have a virus they pretend to remove it then leave your system unbootable. So: what effect do you think "pirated content checkers" will have on the internet? Find real pirated content? Or render the internet unusable?


Rationalization knows no bounds. Instead of IP law, how about anti-IP law where we can sue people for being jerks?

Lots of good stuff

Proceedings of a conference in Potsdam last October. In addition to some invaluable history and analysis - I found especially interesting the article by Stan Liebowitz. Stan is unique among economists in being strongly in favor of copyright, even in its current exaggerated form. What I found striking about his article is that he seems to have given up on the economic argument in favor of copyright and turned to a moral argument. If Stan can't defend the economics of copyright anymore, nobody can.

Culture and IP

We haven't much discussed the connection between culture and IP, especially copyright, although it has been an important theme, for example, of Larry Lessig's work. The point being that the sharing of ideas, themes, and common experience including art and music, is what makes up culture. IP and copyright, especially in its current excessive form, is a threat to the idea of culture - although judging by piracy statistics, culture appears to be winning. Christophe German directed my attention to a UNESCO study on diversity - meaning in this case cultural diversity - see especially page 10 in the executive summary where copyright is rightfully recognized as one of the primary threats to cultural diversity. I'd also like to direct your attention to his blog which in addition to discussing the broader legal and moral issues involving culture, discusses specifically the role of copyright law.

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Most Recent Comments

Questions and Challenges For Defenders of the Current Copyright Regime It is one of the finest websites I have stumbled upon. It is not only well developed, but has good

Killing people with patents I'm not really commenting the post, but rather asking if this blog is going to make a comeback

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

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

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

Do we need a law? @ Alexander Baker: So basically, if I copy parts of 'Titus Andronicus' to a webpage without

Do we need a law? The issue is whether the crime is punished not who punishes it. If somebody robs our house we do

Do we need a law? 1. Plagiarism most certainly is illegal, it is called "copyright infringement". One very famous

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.

WKRP In Cincinnati - Requiem For A Masterpiece P.S. The link to Amazon's WKRP product page:

WKRP In Cincinnati - Requiem For A Masterpiece Hopefully some very good news. Shout! Factory is releasing the entire series of WKRP in Cincinnati,

What's copywritable? Go fish in court. @ Anonymous: You misunderstood my intent. I was actually trying to point out a huge but basic

Rights Violations Aren't the Only Bads I hear that nonsense from pro-IP people all the

Intellectual Property Fosters Corporate Concentration Yeah, I see the discouragement of working on a patented device all the time. Great examples

Music without copyright Hundreds of businessmen are looking for premium quality article distribution services that can be

Les patent trolls ne sont pas toujours des officines

Les patent trolls ne sont pas toujours des officines

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

Bonfire of the Missalettes!

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