Crawl Across the Ocean

Monday, January 05, 2009

Speaking of Monopoly....

If I ever had the motivation to write a 100,000 word post about why intellectual monopoly (intellectual property, to some) does more harm than good, and should be scaled back dramatically, if not eliminated outright, it would look a lot like this, a book by Michele Boldrin and David Levine called 'Against Intellectual Monopoly'.

The short version is that patents and copyright cause more harm by hurting consumers via the restriction of the sharing of knowledge and contents that they create benefits by encouraging people to create more new copyrightable or patentable ideas/content, and that there are better ways to encourage innovation than granting perpetual (or near perpetual) monopolies to creators of such things.

Via Ezra Klein.

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  • I'm pretty nearly sold on your recommendation alone, but since they've nicely put the entire book up as a free PDF, I can read a chapter or two on screen before I decide to order a physical copy for more comfortable reading.

    By Blogger Chris McLaren, at 6:24 AM  

  • Intellectual property regulation is broken. In incremental steps it has become something it was never intended to be.

    I recall a dinner discussion with a few IP lawyers a few years ago where they talked about Amazon patenting the one-click purchase. This wasn't the development of a new technology. It was, at best, the routine application of widespread and fully adopted technology.

    While I haven't read the book yet -- but I've added it to the to-read list -- this seems like an example of what the author was talking about.

    By Blogger KevinG, at 4:10 PM  

  • Chris - It's not the best written book in the world, it feels at times as though it's been padded to make it out to book length, for one thing, but in general the points made are good and there's a lot of breadth in what's covered and lots of interesting stuff in there.

    Nice to see someone approach the topic and actually treat different industries differently, recognizing they have different characteristics which are suited to different IP rules.

    And the part in the intro about James Watt and his patented steam engine was all new to me.

    Kevin - Yes, one-click is just one example of many. One of the alarming things in the book is when they talk about the ever expanding scope of patents being granted in the U.S. on flimsier and flimsier grounds.

    By Blogger Declan, at 6:50 PM  

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