Intellectual Property

Here are my thoughts about Why Intellectual Property in The Public Domain

Summary of Key Points

  1. If we are to rely on market demands to drive innovation there needs to be incentive for things that are difficult to exclude people from
  2. Our laws have gotten out of hand in terms of the purpose of driving innovation. A large percentage of media is not available and the copyright owners are not accessible.
  3. A simpler copyright system where people needed to request a copyright that would last for 28 years and could be renewed for another 28 is similar to the US system before 1978 and could work again.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Since making something illegal doesn’t necessarily stop it from happening is copyright really the way to protect intellectual property?
    1. “Having been given the ability to forbid people to copy your invention or your novel, you can make them pay for the privilege of getting access.”
    2. But there’s no way to actually “make them pay”. Many people are comfortable with pirating these days. I’ve been working off and on on a project where the client wants to make things digital, but is terrified of people copying. Unless they offer an ongoing service (like customer support as the author discusses), it seems like it might not be possible to stop all copying anyway.
  2. Why is copyright free, but patents so expensive?
  3. Would people need to purchase extra copyright years at the start, or could they wait and see how things went?
    1. “To put it another way, if copyright owners had to purchase each additional five years of term separately, the same way we buy warranties on our appliances, the economically rational ones would mainly settle for a fairly short period.“

Supplemental Resources

  1. It’s interesting that most other countries have copyright terms similar to and often longer than those in the US (though I don’t know the details about how strictly the laws are adhered to) – link
  2. I’m interested in how long copyrights are profitable for their holders, but haven’t found any sources on it yet. Has anyone else”


  1. “or solar-powered backscratchers. To be exact, you want lots of innovation but you do not know exactly what innovation or even what types of innovation you want.“
    1. First of all, what would a solar-powered backscratcher be like? I wonder if those massage crab things could be transformed to scratchers.
    2. It’s a brave idea to want lots of innovation with no semblance of control over it (not that you could probably put a stop to it after a while). Eventually people will make bio weapons and tools to make thefts easier long with the solar-powered backscratchers.
    3. I think it’s more productive to not have something specific in mind, because that might squelch what someone else has in mind.
  2. “Given scarce time and resources, should we try to improve typewriters or render them obsolete with word processors?”
    1. I suppose it’s everyone’s prerogative to work on and support what they deem most important, but I don’t think it’s anyone’s prerogative to make these distinctions for everyone else.
  3. “Both the publisher and I believe that this [publishing online for free] will increase rather than decrease sales.”
    1. This seems to be what is happening with Game of Thrones
    2. I am thinking about buying the audio book now that I have read part of the free book, though I don’t think I’d buy a hard copy, since I prefer digital.
  4. “They will argue, and I agree, that the use of the term “property” can cause people mistakenly to conflate these rights with those to physical property.
    1. I find the notion of some kinds of physical property odd as well. How do you really own land? Can you own a patch of air or ocean? What about things going in and out of it (shifting dirt? shifting leaves) even under the surface of the earth? What about owning living things. Animals tend to be owned, but to a certain extent they have legal rights.


  1. Monopoly – you are the only one who can do/use these things
    1. Copyright
    2. Patent
    3. Trademark
  2. Berne Convention > WIPO 
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