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Is Intellectual Property Good Or Bad?

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I've been pondering the role of intellectual property laws. From an anarchist perspective, no such laws should exist, yet western society is taught that they are an essential good, but are they?

Could it be that IP is there, largely to allow the VIs to cement their position, while reassuring the little guy that it is to help them? Considering that branding, proprietary systems and so forth, all protecting corporate interests, do they really help the individual?

Consider this: if a business had no legal right to protect themselves from employees distributing systems information, businesses would have a completely different relationship with their employees. For instance, they would have to first trust staff before exposing them to sensitive information. Secondly, they would have to compensate them for not sharing this knowledge/data. This could lead to a employees being far less dispensable - rewarding current and ex-employees for their silence would be a requirement, if the business wished to keep business sensitive data safe. Indeed, if the safety of said data was required to ensure large profits, it would be to the mutual benefits of both parties. Businesses would be far closer to being co-operatives, rather than top heavy corporations - there would be far more mutual interests.

Additionally, branding would not gain the power that it now achieves. Without branding, goods would have to be sold on quality and price, rather than from a position of branding monopoly. The developed world could no longer prevent the developing world from marking their goods in the same arbitrary way - the difference would come down to quality and if there was little difference, then why should there be a premium anyway?

Then there is the argument that IP prevents the spread of new technologies, up until the IP loses its power. Is this to the benefit of corporates or all of us as individuals? Arguably, it is mainly for the former. This is especially true, if the item/system in question is not difficult to reproduce.

There is the opposing argument, which suggests that inventors would have less incentive to be creative. Is this credible though? If you are the first to market, you have the advantage, up until others can catch up anyway - are further advantages required for this to be lucrative?

There is another argument which assumes that it helps protects individual inventors from being exploited by corporations. However, surely it is mutually advantages for both the corporate to have exclusive rights and for the inventor to honour this if requested?

Many have suggested that removing government laws and regulations would play into the hands of the corporates. However, without IP laws, surely the power would shift from the government, not towards the corporates, but towards the individual. In short, it could decentralise power in a good way.

I'd like to hear thoughts and discuss this further with the many thinkers on this board.

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I've been pondering the role of intellectual property laws. From an anarchist perspective, no such laws should exist, yet western society is taught that they are an essential good, but are they?

Could it be that IP is there, largely to allow the VIs to cement their position, while reassuring the little guy that it is to help them? Considering that branding, proprietary systems and so forth, all protecting corporate interests, do they really help the individual?

Consider this: if a business had no legal right to protect themselves from employees distributing systems information, businesses would have a completely different relationship with their employees. For instance, they would have to first trust staff before exposing them to sensitive information. Secondly, they would have to compensate them for not sharing this knowledge/data. This could lead to a employees being far less dispensable - rewarding current and ex-employees for their silence would be a requirement, if the business wished to keep business sensitive data safe. Indeed, if the safety of said data was required to ensure large profits, it would be to the mutual benefits of both parties. Businesses would be far closer to being co-operatives, rather than top heavy corporations - there would be far more mutual interests.

Additionally, branding would not gain the power that it now achieves. Without branding, goods would have to be sold on quality and price, rather than from a position of branding monopoly. The developed world could no longer prevent the developing world from marking their goods in the same arbitrary way - the difference would come down to quality and if there was little difference, then why should there be a premium anyway?

Then there is the argument that IP prevents the spread of new technologies, up until the IP loses its power. Is this to the benefit of corporates or all of us as individuals? Arguably, it is mainly for the former. This is especially true, if the item/system in question is not difficult to reproduce.

There is the opposing argument, which suggests that inventors would have less incentive to be creative. Is this credible though? If you are the first to market, you have the advantage, up until others can catch up anyway - are further advantages required for this to be lucrative?

There is another argument which assumes that it helps protects individual inventors from being exploited by corporations. However, surely it is mutually advantages for both the corporate to have exclusive rights and for the inventor to honour this if requested?

Many have suggested that removing government laws and regulations would play into the hands of the corporates. However, without IP laws, surely the power would shift from the government, not towards the corporates, but towards the individual. In short, it could decentralise power in a good way.

I'd like to hear thoughts and discuss this further with the many thinkers on this board.

Sorry if this is a noob question but here goes: is there such a thing as 'intellectual property' law? There is copyright and patent law but does 'intellectual property' law actually have an explicit legal basis? Personally speaking, I believe that patent law tends to favour big corporations and isn't really necessary today. Copyright law is fine in principle but is under intense pressure due to massive and widespread digital data copying.

Edited by Quiet Guy

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Sorry if this is a noob question but here goes: is there such a thing as 'intellectual property' law? There is copyright and patent law but does 'intellectual property' law actually have an explicit legal basis? Personally speaking, I believe that patent law tends to favour big corporations and isn't really necessary today. Copyright law is fine in principle but is under intense pressure due to massive and widespread digital data copying.

When I say IP, I primarily mean copyright and patent law: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellectual_property

I agree that copyright law is coming under massive pressure too, but the EU is trying to crack down further on this (IIRC) and I don't see any desire from the governments or VIs to change this. However, here I'm really interested in whether any IP laws are necessary or even good.

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The phrase 'intellectual property' refers to copyright, patents and designs (e.g. trademarks) collectively. As far as I'm aware, the phrase in itself has no legal significance.

I am no expert on patents and designs, but I do know a little bit about copyright.

The first IP legislation in this country, the Copyright Act of 1709 (sometimes called the Statute of Anne or the Act of Anne), was intended to address a problem created by the emergence of the printing press: that someone could put a lot of time, effort and money into creating a work of intellectual property that could be embodied within a printed text, which thereafter could be copied without limit at at negligble further cost. It was therefore considered necessary to pass a law that established the principle whereby the person who puts their resources into creating the work has the exclusive (unless he/or she sub-licenses it) right to control its commercial exploitation for a set period thereafter.

The emergence of digital media and the Internet has simply enlarged this principle, not changed it. Like the printing press, the Internet enables the distribution of IP: it just does so more efficently and more cheaply than its predecessors.

The problems with copyright law as it currently exists, IMO, are that the default period of duration is too long (especially for audiovisual works) and the fact that it can only be enforced by civil law in most cases means that only the rich and well-resourced can defend themselves against infringements. The two books I have published have been scanned in their entirety and made available to download on a number of illegal sites. I don't have the money to go after these people, and my publisher doesn't think it's worth it, because the lost sales (they estimate) would nowhere near cover the legal costs. But if I was Rihanna and was having this discussion with my record label, I suspect that the response would be rather different.

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Sorry if this is a noob question but here goes: is there such a thing as 'intellectual property' law? There is copyright and patent law but does 'intellectual property' law actually have an explicit legal basis? Personally speaking, I believe that patent law tends to favour big corporations and isn't really necessary today. Copyright law is fine in principle but is under intense pressure due to massive and widespread digital data copying.

Richard Stallman has some radical views on the IP classification - I think you can track them down through the wikipedia biog:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Stallman#Free_software_activism

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The phrase 'intellectual property' refers to copyright, patents and designs (e.g. trademarks) collectively. As far as I'm aware, the phrase in itself has no legal significance.

I am no expert on patents and designs, but I do know a little bit about copyright.

The first IP legislation in this country, the Copyright Act of 1709 (sometimes called the Statute of Anne or the Act of Anne), was intended to address a problem created by the emergence of the printing press: that someone could put a lot of time, effort and money into creating a work of intellectual property that could be embodied within a printed text, which thereafter could be copied without limit at at negligble further cost. It was therefore considered necessary to pass a law that established the principle whereby the person who puts their resources into creating the work has the exclusive (unless he/or she sub-licenses it) right to control its commercial exploitation for a set period thereafter.

The emergence of digital media and the Internet has simply enlarged this principle, not changed it. Like the printing press, the Internet enables the distribution of IP: it just does so more efficently and more cheaply than its predecessors.

The problems with copyright law as it currently exists, IMO, are that the default period of duration is too long (especially for audiovisual works) and the fact that it can only be enforced by civil law in most cases means that only the rich and well-resourced can defend themselves against infringements. The two books I have published have been scanned in their entirety and made available to download on a number of illegal sites. I don't have the money to go after these people, and my publisher doesn't think it's worth it, because the lost sales (they estimate) would nowhere near cover the legal costs. But if I was Rihanna and was having this discussion with my record label, I suspect that the response would be rather different.

Thanks for this reply - this is just the sort of perspective I was hoping for to open the debate further.

Clearly, copyright law hasn't helped you as a regular (ie. non-rich) individual. This reinforces my perspective that it isn't here to help people like us, but rather those with the money to take advantage of such protection. However, I assume you have still sold many books regardless of this, perhaps by many who feel that it is worth compensating you for your time authoring such material.

I also have a VI, as I am a software engineer. As we know, copying software is trivial. However, having worked as a self employed web developer, I have tended to assume that I couldn't enforce my copyright; I simply sold the software as a service. I am also happy with this, as it has given my customers non-proprietary code, which I or others can enhance. They were (and are) aware of this and still come back for work to be done regardless.

Maybe your exposure to copyright as an author is stronger though - it would certainly be harder to write books as a service.

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I'd like to hear thoughts and discuss this further with the many thinkers on this board.

It is good & bad

Good that it allows people/compAnies to profit from their investment

Bad that it assumes someone else didn't/couldn't independently cone up with the idea first/at the sane time or soon after

These two are balanced by the time you can protect IP.

The real debate is this time that it is your IP. TOo long and it is a harm to society. Likewise too shirt and it us a harm

Ofcourse this is very subjective. For same IP it may be days others centuries.

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I'd agree that many copyright laws are for too long a period. I find the posthumous trading of copyright un-meritocratic and it leaves a nasty taste in the mouth, much like monarchy.

One worry I would have about the absolute removal is - in certain industries wouldn't it be those with resources, able to manufacture quickly and in mass, who are likely to come out on top? In other words the already rich. Entrepreneurs and inventors will need to be very secretive to get ahead. Corporate spying could become big(ger) business. As for audio/visual artists that don't perform - many would have to rely on donations. Maybe patronage would return.

I find it very hard to predict the outcomes, although I am in favour of relaxing the laws.

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As others have pointed out, IP is legally three different things: copyright, patents, and trademarks. Each protected by its own area of law and international treaties. Each one makes lots of sense in principle, but the reality can be very different.

Trademarks are the least problematic: they protect a design you or I use to identify something against impersonation. There's occasional controversy at the fringes (can Apple prevent Amazon or Google calling something an "App Store"?), but noone takes real damage from it in the course of an honest business.

Copyright protects against literal (or substantial) copying. It has a couple of well-known problems: it's impractical to enforce, and it lasts a ridiculously long time even after the original producer's death. It's also fertile ground for piracy, with the likes of Disney corp on the one hand (successfully) lobbying to have the laws to protect its rights ferociously extended (google "DCMA"), while at the same time shamelessly helping itself to other people's work. I think it was in '97 I learned a practical lesson when I found out my own ISP was violating my copyright on a piece of software, and since then I've had people openly talk of their pirated copies of my book.

Patents are in principle the best tool for the inventor, but in practice the biggest problem. Big companies collect them as a form of insurance against attack from their rivals, and traditionally operate patent pacts (we won't sue you if you don't sue us). Sometimes that doesn't happen: most the big names in mobile telephony are at war (and that includes companies like Google and Oracle who aren't directly in that business). Most damaging of all is so-called "patent trolls": companies whose sole business is to extract ransoms from productive business. They are more dangerous even than traditional pirates, because you have no way of knowing where a patent will hit you from, and even a totally bogus patent can kill a business (google for NTP vs RIM).

The USPTO in particular has a long history of using patents as an instrument of economic imperialism: award patents willy-nilly to US companies (making no attempt to distinguish legitimate from bogus) and rely on international treaties to gain worldwide advantage, as well as specific and very drastic problems with in the US (RIM, being a non-US company, ended up paying over $600 million to a US company whose patents were eventually all found to be bogus by a US court. They judged that to have lost their US business - and with it worldwide credibility - over the time taken to invalidate the patents would've hit them for more than that.)

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I've been pondering the role of intellectual property laws. From an anarchist perspective, no such laws should exist, yet western society is taught that they are an essential good, but are they?

Could it be that IP is there, largely to allow the VIs to cement their position, while reassuring the little guy that it is to help them? Considering that branding, proprietary systems and so forth, all protecting corporate interests, do they really help the individual?

Consider this: if a business had no legal right to protect themselves from employees distributing systems information, businesses would have a completely different relationship with their employees. For instance, they would have to first trust staff before exposing them to sensitive information. Secondly, they would have to compensate them for not sharing this knowledge/data. This could lead to a employees being far less dispensable - rewarding current and ex-employees for their silence would be a requirement, if the business wished to keep business sensitive data safe. Indeed, if the safety of said data was required to ensure large profits, it would be to the mutual benefits of both parties. Businesses would be far closer to being co-operatives, rather than top heavy corporations - there would be far more mutual interests.

Additionally, branding would not gain the power that it now achieves. Without branding, goods would have to be sold on quality and price, rather than from a position of branding monopoly. The developed world could no longer prevent the developing world from marking their goods in the same arbitrary way - the difference would come down to quality and if there was little difference, then why should there be a premium anyway?

Then there is the argument that IP prevents the spread of new technologies, up until the IP loses its power. Is this to the benefit of corporates or all of us as individuals? Arguably, it is mainly for the former. This is especially true, if the item/system in question is not difficult to reproduce.

There is the opposing argument, which suggests that inventors would have less incentive to be creative. Is this credible though? If you are the first to market, you have the advantage, up until others can catch up anyway - are further advantages required for this to be lucrative?

There is another argument which assumes that it helps protects individual inventors from being exploited by corporations. However, surely it is mutually advantages for both the corporate to have exclusive rights and for the inventor to honour this if requested?

Many have suggested that removing government laws and regulations would play into the hands of the corporates. However, without IP laws, surely the power would shift from the government, not towards the corporates, but towards the individual. In short, it could decentralise power in a good way.

I'd like to hear thoughts and discuss this further with the many thinkers on this board.

The only good thing about IP is that it can allow individuals and small companies to profit from a rare truly original idea,product or whatever. However even that has its downside because these small companies will become big companies and start creating mind numbing jobs and influencing political parties like all larger corporations do.

I don't think many true inventors are driven by the idea of huge profits so I don't think it would stop creativity. Again this depends on society and the fundamental flaw with most of them is that they are vastly unequal. If there is more equality then people aren't driven as much by profit and become more altruistic. I think that you would see more creativity without IP.. There is of course the rare individual like Jonas Salk who famously refused to patent the Polio Vaccine - he made a pretty important statement there. He also said 'there is no patent - can one patent the sun?' - the types of things that you can patent are ridiculous and almost all of them are simply logical steps forward from previous work by other people.

I'd be interested to understand if IP is actually a cause of inequality. In western societies I think it is, but if it was removed then I just think the elite would find new ways to monopolise. Persoanlly i think its generally a bad thing though.

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Guest eight

Bad that it assumes someone else didn't/couldn't independently cone up with the idea first/at the sane time or soon after

This is true. I've "invented" loads of things that I only subsequently found out to already exist.

eight

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Without IP there would be no private investment in technology.

Take drugs, research and trials for a single drug will often run into hundreds of millions (yes hundreds). Investors will only put that money up for a future return. Typical patent life is twenty years, but remember that isn't twenty years from the point of marketing. Some drugs coming to market may only have a few years of patent life remaining.

No IP, no progress.

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Traktion - ideas, creation, inventions, works of art, design and cutting edge drugs all usually take a large investment in time and money to get to the point they are a commercial product.

Your suggestion that once commercialisation is achieved any tom dick or harry can come along and copy your creation/product/widget/whatever the day it’s made public with not having invested a bean into it’s creation is complete foolery.

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Intellectual property laws work only if you allow an individual to legally assert their position for a limited time.

Else, you stifle innovation. Which is how things work here. Bloody stifling.

All kinds of folk continue to make their fortunes from lawsuits over ancient copyrights and patents.

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Traktion - ideas, creation, inventions, works of art, design and cutting edge drugs all usually take a large investment in time and money to get to the point they are a commercial product.

Your suggestion that once commercialisation is achieved any tom dick or harry can come along and copy your creation/product/widget/whatever the day it’s made public with not having invested a bean into it’s creation is complete foolery.

Is it better for the world in general and the economy that some of the few new drugs created that actually do more good than harm are not available as low cost generics to benefit the poor people of the world? For example, new AIDs drugs that could potentially dramatically help many countries in Africa. You may argue that these drugs would never have been invented in the first place if pharma companies didn't have the right to exploit them exclusively, however I would argue the opposite and we must try to foster a society where people do things less for personal profit and more for the good of everyone. That's hard to imagine now in the UK but lots of countries are better at this than us.

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As far as I can tell, the basic argument about IP is that the person (or people) who produce a new idea or concept have the right to own that concept and profit from it to the exclusion of others and they must pay to copy it or to acquire a copy of it (or are forbidden from this entirely.)

The problem with this, is if you take it to it's logical conclusion, any idea or concept you got from someone else doesn't belong to you, it belongs to them. Including your thoughts. Remembering a film, book, idea or invention is just another form of copying, after all.

It kinda follows that this cannot possibly be right.

As we cannot walk, talk, dance, dress, love etc etc without copying other people then to deny us the ability to copy removes something primary about being human.

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It is good & bad

Good that it allows people/compAnies to profit from their investment

Bad that it assumes someone else didn't/couldn't independently cone up with the idea first/at the sane time or soon after

These two are balanced by the time you can protect IP.

The real debate is this time that it is your IP. TOo long and it is a harm to society. Likewise too shirt and it us a harm

Ofcourse this is very subjective. For same IP it may be days others centuries.

To be consistent, I wanted an all or nothing argument. There may well be a third way, but as you say, it's then a subjective decision.

I think in interesting central question is whether it benefits individuals or companies. Ofc, some will argue that the latter benefits all of us, but I'm not sure how compelling it is.

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I'd agree that many copyright laws are for too long a period. I find the posthumous trading of copyright un-meritocratic and it leaves a nasty taste in the mouth, much like monarchy.

One worry I would have about the absolute removal is - in certain industries wouldn't it be those with resources, able to manufacture quickly and in mass, who are likely to come out on top? In other words the already rich. Entrepreneurs and inventors will need to be very secretive to get ahead. Corporate spying could become big(ger) business. As for audio/visual artists that don't perform - many would have to rely on donations. Maybe patronage would return.

I find it very hard to predict the outcomes, although I am in favour of relaxing the laws.

I am sure that things would have to change for the reasons you outline, but they don't seem to be insurmountable problems. Being more secretive with information, requiring a more equal and trusting relationship between company owners and staff etc would all spill out from this.

In many ways, it seems like IP laws allow companies to be lazy. The employees can come and go, with little leverage over the company, which gives the companies power to exploit them. I don't believe that inventions would stop being discovered, as there would always be a profitable advantage from reaching the market first. The difference is, the time span where this advantage would last would be far shorter, perhaps for the benefit of all - indeed, it could encourage less reliance on old IP, urging new R&D.

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As others have pointed out, IP is legally three different things: copyright, patents, and trademarks. Each protected by its own area of law and international treaties. Each one makes lots of sense in principle, but the reality can be very different.

Trademarks are the least problematic: they protect a design you or I use to identify something against impersonation. There's occasional controversy at the fringes (can Apple prevent Amazon or Google calling something an "App Store"?), but noone takes real damage from it in the course of an honest business.

Copyright protects against literal (or substantial) copying. It has a couple of well-known problems: it's impractical to enforce, and it lasts a ridiculously long time even after the original producer's death. It's also fertile ground for piracy, with the likes of Disney corp on the one hand (successfully) lobbying to have the laws to protect its rights ferociously extended (google "DCMA"), while at the same time shamelessly helping itself to other people's work. I think it was in '97 I learned a practical lesson when I found out my own ISP was violating my copyright on a piece of software, and since then I've had people openly talk of their pirated copies of my book.

Patents are in principle the best tool for the inventor, but in practice the biggest problem. Big companies collect them as a form of insurance against attack from their rivals, and traditionally operate patent pacts (we won't sue you if you don't sue us). Sometimes that doesn't happen: most the big names in mobile telephony are at war (and that includes companies like Google and Oracle who aren't directly in that business). Most damaging of all is so-called "patent trolls": companies whose sole business is to extract ransoms from productive business. They are more dangerous even than traditional pirates, because you have no way of knowing where a patent will hit you from, and even a totally bogus patent can kill a business (google for NTP vs RIM).

The USPTO in particular has a long history of using patents as an instrument of economic imperialism: award patents willy-nilly to US companies (making no attempt to distinguish legitimate from bogus) and rely on international treaties to gain worldwide advantage, as well as specific and very drastic problems with in the US (RIM, being a non-US company, ended up paying over $600 million to a US company whose patents were eventually all found to be bogus by a US court. They judged that to have lost their US business - and with it worldwide credibility - over the time taken to invalidate the patents would've hit them for more than that.)

Some good points there. Patents seem to have become a powerful weapon for the corporates, causing stasis and huge waste in legal costs. The little guy really doesn't stand a chance here.

Regarding trademarks, I thought this was an interesting quote on wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Stallman):

These laws originated separately, evolved differently, cover different activities, have different rules, and raise different public policy issues. Copyright law was designed to promote authorship and art, and covers the details of a work of authorship or art. Patent law was intended to encourage publication of ideas, at the price of finite monopolies over these ideas — a price that may be worth paying in some fields and not in others. Trademark law was not intended to promote any business activity, but simply to enable buyers to know what they are buying.(59)

Brand building is now big business, with marketing departments creating at image based on little more than a name or a squiggle. It seems pretty daft that people fall for it - if the same squiggle was on an alternatively manufactured product with similar quality at half the price, is it really bad for the individual consumer or the corporate? It seems obvious to me that it is the latter and there would be better ways to prove authenticity if that was the objective of trademarks.

Edited by Traktion

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The problems with copyright law as it currently exists, IMO, are that the default period of duration is too long (especially for audiovisual works) and the fact that it can only be enforced by civil law in most cases means that only the rich and well-resourced can defend themselves against infringements. The two books I have published have been scanned in their entirety and made available to download on a number of illegal sites. I don't have the money to go after these people, and my publisher doesn't think it's worth it, because the lost sales (they estimate) would nowhere near cover the legal costs. But if I was Rihanna and was having this discussion with my record label, I suspect that the response would be rather different.

BTW, I pondered something last night - was copyright law created to protect VIs and an industry, rather than let it be battered by the tides of progress? Could copyright law be considered protectionist over an industry which the printing press had sucked the profit out of?

To put it into perspective today, I'm sure the newspapers would rather have more protection against the copying of their text on the Internet. I don't think the press will be given this and progress will have won this time, but there are interesting parallels.

Finally, selling near directly has cut the cost of music, to the point where buying an album for a few quid isn't hard, while rewarding the artist. Maybe the likes of Amazon's Kindle will do the same with books? While they could be copied, most people will not begrudge the author of a few pounds. In short, piracy no longer becomes worth the effort and arguably the Internet has forced this hand, but hasn't stopped new music and books from being created.

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Traktion - ideas, creation, inventions, works of art, design and cutting edge drugs all usually take a large investment in time and money to get to the point they are a commercial product.

Your suggestion that once commercialisation is achieved any tom dick or harry can come along and copy your creation/product/widget/whatever the day it’s made public with not having invested a bean into it’s creation is complete foolery.

Why? The initial creator will still get the benefit from being first to market. After which, they will have to trade on their reputation, service, price and quality to retain custom. Wouldn't that be better for the individual?

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Copyright yes, Patents Depends. Manufacturing something tangible yes, virtual like software no becuase in programming theres so many different ways to achieve the same outcome its not like tweaking a bit on a chemical formula like citlopram becoming escitlopram to renew a patent (not a good example). :rolleyes:

In my case a $billion software company in the US was awarded a patent in Dec which pretty much desribes one my programs that existed before the patent was filed, this means it will cost me (a one man band) alot of money when a patent infringement case goes to court. The fact is though my software does more than the patented version of the software plus they were developing it on the open internet forums before the patent was even filed although I didnt know this at the time becuase they work on a different OS platform to me. Anyway it really is a case of 3 people (them) and me in different countries have come up with the same idea around the same time give or take a few months. I dont have the resource to file the patent they do so in this case Patents remove innovation from the system. From a business perspective my product will generate more revenue than the rival becuase of the extra things my program does which theirs doesnt, but if they choose to defend then only the lawyers win.

The thing with patents is this, anyone can have an idea and file it if they have funds and then sit back and harvest a % from anyone infringing their patent. The original concept of the patent office was to protect peoples ideas but the costs are so prohibitive now it doesnt serve the purpose it was set up originally for in the first place.

They dont have to put the product into production so patents can hold back the planet for 20years as new technologies are prevented from coming on the market, ensuring existing technologies milk the planet. Patents are like land banks for supermarkets preventing other supermarkets from getting a foot into a town.

Some good points and I agree about software. I remember the case over the hyperlink, as if it was some how a magnificent invention, when it's basically a small, logical step forward from an index.

The patent banking is also a very good point. There are rumours that the car manufacturers and oil companies have been doing this for years, relating to batteries and alternative energy sources. I'm sure there are many other cases. These would all hold up progress and maximise profits from older inventions, until they decide to allow the world to move on. Again, is this good for the individual or the corporate?

I have also noticed that often two companies file almost identical patents. I remember AMD and Intel both filing patents for very similar technology, for example. How the lawyers would pick such things apart in a court, I have no idea.

...

So if the patents can address issues of cost which are barriers to genuine ideas whilst not increasing their workloads with lots of worthless ideas or people trying it on then let them stand if they cant then get rid of patents.

I'm tending towards the latter.

I have filed a patent in the past and it was purely to stop others from taking legal action against their new patent in the future. The product wasn't taken through to fruition, but I'm not sure I would have ever been able to pay for the protection. l certainly never thought of it as an offensive decision to prevent others, but rather as a defensive option to stop them being aggressive towards me.

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As far as I can tell, the basic argument about IP is that the person (or people) who produce a new idea or concept have the right to own that concept and profit from it to the exclusion of others and they must pay to copy it or to acquire a copy of it (or are forbidden from this entirely.)

That basic argument splits into two interpretations, and IMO the distinction is significant. The Anglo-Saxon concept, as embodied in the Statute of Anne and subsequent legislation all the way through to the so-called 'Mickey Mouse Act' of 1998,* is to protect the financial investment someone makes in creating a work of IP. The justification goes that I am not going to spend a year of my life writing a book, or Hollywood is not going to spend $50m making a film, if, as soon as it's finished, anyone else can copy and exploit it for next to nothing. Because the technology exists freely for them to do so, the use of that technology has to be regulated by law in order to safeguard the creator's investment.

French copyright legislation is based on the principle of the droit d'auteur (moral right of the author). This is more to do with safeguarding the contribution to culture and society made by a work of IP, and the author's statement in making it. Both approaches are embodied in the 2001 EU Copyright Directive, which has been used both to increase copyright terms on books, films, recordings etc. to the benefit of the big businesses that own most of them, but also to safeguard cultural integrity as well. Last year, for example, a group of French academics successfully got a court order banning the sale of DVDs of colourised versions of several classic b/w feature films on those grounds. This is a good example of the distinction between the economic and moral arguments. The Anglo-Saxon approach to copyright would hold that if you'd put up the money to make Citizen Kane or Casablanca, then if you want to colourise them, they're yours to do what you like with. The French approach would hold that the filmmakers never intended this to happen, and that the cultural integrity of their original work should be respected.

Pascal Kamina's book Film Copyright in the European Union is worth a look for the background on French 'moral' copyright law, though a poor English translation makes it somewhat turgid and heavy-going to read.

On the issue of adaptations, Lawrence Lessig's Free Culture, Free Society and Andrew Keen's The Cult of the Amateur develop opposing arguments, and both are worth a look. Lessig (founder of the Creative Commons movement) argues that copyright terms should be minimal on the grounds that most significant works of art and culture 'plagarise', to some extent at least, pre-existing ones. He also argues - and here I agree with him - that copyright terms are now way longer than can be justified by the imperative to enable a creater of IP time to recoup their investment. Keen opposes this by implicitly supporting the French approach, that unless the integrity of the work of professional authors, artists etc. is safeguarded, the result will be a sort of mass dumbing down to the lowest common cultural denominator.

* The US Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, so-called because it is widely suspected that it was passed in response to lobbying by Disney. The trademark rights to the image of Mickey Mouse were about to expire, and this act extended them to 90 years.

Edited by The Ayatollah Buggeri

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That basic argument splits into two interpretations, and IMO the distinction is significant. The Anglo-Saxon concept, as embodied in the Statute of Anne and subsequent legislation all the way through to the so-called 'Mickey Mouse Act' of 1998,* is to protect the financial investment someone makes in creating a work of IP. The justification goes that I am not going to spend a year of my life writing a book, or Hollywood is not going to spend $50m making a film, if, as soon as it's finished, anyone else can copy and exploit it for next to nothing. Because the technology exists freely for them to do so, the use of that technology has to be regulated by law in order to safeguard the creator's investment.

French copyright legislation is based on the principle of the droit d'auteur (moral right of the author). This is more to do with safeguarding the contribution to culture and society made by a work of IP, and the author's statement in making it. Both approaches are embodied in the 2001 EU Copyright Directive, which has been used both to increase copyright terms on books, films, recordings etc. to the benefit of the big businesses that own most of them, but also to safeguard cultural integrity as well. Last year, for example, a group of French academics successfully got a court order banning the sale of DVDs of colourised versions of several classic b/w feature films on those grounds.

Pascal Kamina's book Film Copyright in the European Union is worth a look for the background on French 'moral' copyright law, though a poor English translation makes it somewhat turgid and heavy-going to read.

On the issue of adaptations, Lawrence Lessig's Free Culture, Free Society and Andrew Keen's The Cult of the Amateur develop opposing arguments, and both are worth a look. Lessig (founder of the Creative Commons movement) argues that copyright terms should be minimal on the grounds that most significant works of art and culture 'plagarise', to some extent at least, pre-existing ones. He also argues - and here I agree with him - that copyright terms are now way longer than can be justified by the imperative to enable a creater of IP time to recoup their investment. Keen opposes this by implicitly supporting the French approach, that unless the integrity of the work of professional authors, artists etc. is safeguarded, the result will be a sort of mass dumbing down to the lowest common cultural denominator.

* The US Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, so-called because it is widely suspected that it was passed in response to lobbying by Disney. The trademark rights to the image of Mickey Mouse were about to expire, and this act extended them to 90 years.

Ah gotcha.

The first point is cobblers - stuff is worth what people will pay you for it. If you spend $50 million on something and people like it more than $50 million, they'll send you the money. If they don't, they won't.

The second point I think I covered in my "copying stuff is as essential to humans as breathing" thing, I think. Theres a real problem that anyone who wants to copyright has - and that's the media stuff is copyrighted to - where does it begin and end? Once you let one form of media pass (and you must, or you are claiming ownership of anothers thoughts which is crazy) then the principle is breached and after that it's simply a bunfight to get cash with no principle at all attached. In which case, they can sod off, frankly.

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Copyright yes, Patents Depends. Manufacturing something tangible yes, virtual like software no becuase in programming theres so many different ways to achieve the same outcome its not like tweaking a bit on a chemical formula like citlopram becoming escitlopram to renew a patent (not a good example). :rolleyes:

In my case a $billion software company in the US was awarded a patent in Dec which pretty much desribes one my programs that existed before the patent was filed, this means it will cost me (a one man band) alot of money when a patent infringement case goes to court. The fact is though my software does more than the patented version of the software plus they were developing it on the open internet forums before the patent was even filed although I didnt know this at the time becuase they work on a different OS platform to me. Anyway it really is a case of 3 people (them) and me in different countries have come up with the same idea around the same time give or take a few months. I dont have the resource to file the patent they do so in this case Patents remove innovation from the system. From a business perspective my product will generate more revenue than the rival becuase of the extra things my program does which theirs doesnt, but if they choose to defend then only the lawyers win.

The thing with patents is this, anyone can have an idea and file it if they have funds and then sit back and harvest a % from anyone infringing their patent. The original concept of the patent office was to protect peoples ideas but the costs are so prohibitive now it doesnt serve the purpose it was set up originally for in the first place.

They dont have to put the product into production so patents can hold back the planet for 20years as new technologies are prevented from coming on the market, ensuring existing technologies milk the planet. Patents are like land banks for supermarkets preventing other supermarkets from getting a foot into a town.

In my instance I'm going to stick two fingers up to the US company as and when they come knocking and fight it but its not going to be cheap but at least we are on different continents so I still have the RoW and Europe as my markets.

On the other hand my brother has a patent which is being defended with the help of one of the guys who worked for Trevor Bayliss of clock work radio fame, and its enabled him to have a monopoly in this country. Its not cheap to protect patents though and since his developments have come to market other sectors connected to his line of work are out to get him becuase he has a removed a lucractive revenue stream from them, ie would have sold products worth around a £1k now can only sell £100 products which have no margin in them so he's getting alot of bad mouthing off to potential customers which are all spurious.

So if the patents can address issues of cost which are barriers to genuine ideas whilst not increasing their workloads with lots of worthless ideas or people trying it on then let them stand if they cant then get rid of patents.

+100,000,000,000,000,000

Fully agree,the most dangerous intellectual property in use at the moment covers software, in my mind software patents in particular should be invalidated unless the concept is so earth shattering it's world changing (as in Dan Bricklans creation of the spreadsheet concept, amusingly he didn't protect the idea and never made a penny off it, well not in royalties anyway).

Same problems occur with copyright, and associated attempts to protect it like the US's DMCA, it is conceptually possible that is a particular work (music, artwork or music say) is only available on one form of media it can be lost to humanity if the right holders go bust, refuse further release of the work or the means of presenting it become obsolete, unless you break the law to retreive it of course

Patents and copyrights were originally intended to give limited exclusive rights to the creator in order to protect the small guy from the big guy, however over the years this position has become reversed, particularly in the US where we have had the "Mickey Mouse" laws passed in order to extend Disney's cover on works and characters which should have been public domain long ago.

The US system presents probably the worst case, the problem is they frequently lobby to try to get the same or similar legislation passed into European law.

I attended a lecture on this subject in London a few years ago given by Alan Cox, who is heavily involved with the Linux operating system, there was much hilarity when it was related that when the Eu proposal document was distributed which discussed bringing many features into EU law which were similar to the US they left the watermark in the Word document containing it's original source,.... an American Media Industry lobby group

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