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Economic Gridlock – the Invisible Cost of IP Law

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the let's-all-say-it-together dept.

Businesses 246

smellsofbikes writes "This week's New Yorker magazine has a financial article, 'The Permission Problem,' discussing the hidden cost of patent, trademark and copyright laws. It's a subject anyone here already knows well, but he brings up two interesting points: 1) He uses the term 'tragedy of the anticommons.' Instead of depletion of a shared resource, this describes under-use of hoarded resources: areas that can't be explored because they're encumbered by patent/copyright issues. As he points out, the result of this is an invisible loss: drugs not made, software not written. The loss is impossible to quantify and difficult to see. I like the term 'tragedy of the anticommons' because it encapsulates a long-winded explanation into a pithy, memorable phrase that will stick with people unfamiliar with the topic. 2) He also cites a study by Ben Depoorter and Sven Vanneste that discusses why anticommons effects are seen, beyond mere competition. Individual right holders value their contribution to the overall project as a significant fraction of the project value, so if there are more than three or four right holders, their perceived value can far exceed the total value of the project, making it uneconomical."

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Yes, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24545807)

The project wouldn't work without my function to reverse the string!

Re:Yes, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24546041)

Wait, I wrote the function to reverse the string. I must now sue you for misuse of my IP.

Darn string-reversing, IP stealing, slashdot name copying, miscreant.

I was going to cure cancer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24545817)

But I was too lazy...

Oh, Sorry about the flying car bit too..

Gotta go, cartoons are on.

Divesting yourself of intellectual property (5, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 6 years ago | (#24545831)

I've been anti-copyright for years, testing the water in a large variety of industries to see how getting rid of copyright can actually aid artists. I've now discovered that in every market I've tested, holding on to copyright creates less profit for the artist.

In music, I helped 3 bands (one who is now on an international tour, has had MTV coverage, and sells out a lot of shows) move away from copyright. Tell your fans to bootleg your album, and amazing stuff materializes. It's free promotion, and the tour is where you make your money. Let the fans design their own shirts, and you're getting your own artists for nothing. The plumber makes his money doing repeat work, the musician does the same. The plumber goes to school, and learns new skills all the time; the musician does the same when they compose music.

I moved on to photography and discovered that giving away your photography (say, as free stock imagery) is the best form of marketing your ability as a photographer. I now know at least 3 photographers who openly give their images away online, and have seen their hired work double or even triple. Again, marketing is free if you give it away.

As a writer myself, I repudiate copyright on all I do. I openly ask others to reprint my writings, and even stick their own names on it if they want. Because I write about niche markets, the aid of distribution of my thoughts means more people are attracted to those ideas, which means they'll likely eventually find me. That's a huge benefit for me as I can then sell future newbies to the market on my newsletters, or even hire myself out as a ghost writer or personal writer. My income has surged because I don't copyright my writings, or even ask others to attribute me during the redistribution process.

Copyright doesn't inhibit a market in any way, it inhibits the artist who thinks they can retain creative control and distributive control of prior labor. That's over -- if you didn't charge for the labor, it's now a marketing tool. If you did charge for the labor, you've profited. If you market your abilities correctly, you'll get hired for the work in the future.

I do understand the "need" to patent medicines, but I truly believe even that is useless. Research and development for medicines does not need to be publicly funded or protected by patents. Instead, research can continue the way it always has: fund raisers, private charitable donations, and other ways to get the money needed to develop new medicines. What is the biggest reason medicine costs hundreds of millions to develop? The FDA and other organizations which restrict the market due to government intervention. No different from why copyright is a failure and harms the copyrighter more than it helps them.

YouTube cartoonists will trump Disney eventually. Online music distribution has already destroyed the record stores. Free PDF newsletters, blogs and other web products are killing the newspaper industry and periodical industry. Free product = marketing yourself for being hired to do new work. It's a good thing.

Re:Divesting yourself of intellectual property (4, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 6 years ago | (#24545891)

You're basically advocating the service as opposed to selling position that a lot of people on slashdot have been advocating in the software sector for years. While it may work for you I don't think it can work on a universal level. Why would someone hire you to ghost write a book if they can't get any profit from the actual sale of that book? As for the medicine patent thing, you are completely and utterly wrong if you think that absent either patent protection or intense government funding will produce new medicines. They cost way too much to bring about, and that "government intervention" you complain about it basically "make sure the drug companies do their job testing the medicine before they release it."

Re:Divesting yourself of intellectual property (5, Interesting)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546277)

Actually, the person you are replying to is 100% correct.

The only time the service doesn't work is in an unestablished industry with 0 competitors. In every other industry if you look long term giving things out for free makes exponentially more.

You are absolutely incorrect about medical patents. If it weren't for medical patents, my cousin would have been able to release a cure for a form of HIV she discovered about 5 years back. 5 years! But what happened? A similar modification by a big company has been patented, and they did it merely by patenting every possible variant of the string she used.

Patents are allowing the medical R&D companies to over-recoup the costs of research by a factor of 50+, easily, considering government sponsored research as well.

Lets look at other industries. If cars were given away through promotions (which happens all the time), do you think it might draw up more buzz for the companies?

Lets look at other industries. Take any product, and the more you sell it for, the less people come back for more business. The less you sell it for, the more competitive and more people come back for more business. All products break, or wear down, or need some sort of service. Not all products are worth buying twice in anyone's eyes.

This is also why well trained and good customer service policies make or break a company. Think of Dell's customer service and how people hates them for that.

Re:Divesting yourself of intellectual property (3, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546555)

The only time the service doesn't work is in an unestablished industry with 0 competitors. In every other industry if you look long term giving things out for free makes exponentially more.

But where there's no credible service alternative--for example, writing fiction--then giving it away doesn't help you.

You are absolutely incorrect about medical patents. If it weren't for medical patents, my cousin would have been able to release a cure for a form of HIV she discovered about 5 years back. 5 years! But what happened? A similar modification by a big company has been patented, and they did it merely by patenting every possible variant of the string she used.

First of all I'm sure your cousin built upon decades of patentable work when figuring out her cure. Secondly, when it comes to stuff like that IP law isn't a complete bar, there are political and legal recourses as well. Look at how Brazil strongarmed AIDS drug manufacturers, or at the Doha Declaration, where the WTO basically acknowledged a public health exception for IP laws where developing countries are involved. Tell her to send a letter to the Brazillian minister of health, or to any number of AIDS advocacy groups, letting them know the cure exists.

Lets look at other industries. If cars were given away through promotions (which happens all the time), do you think it might draw up more buzz for the companies?

But giving away cars isn't the main business model; it couldn't be.

This is also why well trained and good customer service policies make or break a company. Think of Dell's customer service and how people hates them for that.

Dell is one of the largest, most successful PC manufacturers in the world. Obviously their poor technical support didn't break them.

Re:Divesting yourself of intellectual property (3, Insightful)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547559)

If I had a dollar for every university researcher who "cured cancer" I'd be a very rich man. Ditto for HIV.

For the most part the only really effective drug patents cover one specific molecule, with obvious non-functional additions/changes to it (you can't just stick a methyl on some huge molecule and call it an innovation).

If a drug company already has this product patented, then why haven't they released a cure?

Researchers tend to claim "success" when they come up with some molecule that has some inhibitory reaction in some in-vitro test. That is often a great lead, but only a very small fraction of these molecules turn out to be useful. Often they start a new line of thinking/questioning that does lead to the correct answer. It is a bit much to say that "most of drug R&D is government funded." That's like saying that because a government lab invented the first polymer that they should be credited with the commercialization of teflon. No doubt one wouldn't happen without the other, but there was certainly a lot of time, effort, and money spent in-between.

Overly-broad patents are clearly harmful. However, if a company goes to the effort to fund clinical trials on a molecule they should stand to benefit from this - beyond having a few months on the market before the first competitor scales up their own production of the same thing.

Massive government funding is a fair alternative to patented private drug development. I'm all for exploring that further. However, volunteer contribution is a bit unrealistic on these kinds of projects - they involve hundreds of clinics and thousands of doctors and scientists, with a truck's worth of paperwork to support their safety testing. Linux on the desktop is a trivial undertaking in comparision and "bounties" haven't quite made that happen yet...

Re:Divesting yourself of intellectual property (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547641)

if I had a dollar for every company who has a patent and doesn't release it to market in order to prevent it and similar products from being public, I'd be a trillionaire right now.

Re:Divesting yourself of intellectual property (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546811)

Why would someone hire you to ghost write a book if they can't get any profit from the actual sale of that book?

Stick an advertisement on the page beginning each chapter, then publish it as a PDF. If it's a good book, then the advertisers will get good exposure. If the advertisers will pay per copy distributed (similar to paying for page views) then the author can make a profit, and with a few well liked books in current distribution make a good living.

Re:Divesting yourself of intellectual property (4, Interesting)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546963)

Why would someone hire you to ghost write a book if they can't get any profit from the actual sale of that book?

Just because there's no copyright on a work doesn't mean that there can be no profit on selling copies of it. Every bookstore I've ever been in stocks copies of public domain works, e.g. Shakespeare plays, Sherlock Holmes stories, which suggests that they and the publishers of those works must make enough to justify doing it. Apparently some people are willing to pay for the tangible copy even if they could get the work fixed within for free elsewhere. Of course, competition between publishers will tend to drive the price down to just above marginal cost, but that's fine as far as the customers are concerned.

Additionally, there are some other advantages a publisher can get in the marketplace which are unrelated to copyright. For example, there is a first mover advantage, where the first publisher to market can capture more business than he otherwise would until his competitors catch up. Shakespeare more or less did this, as his company would perform his plays first, but couldn't really stop other people from copying them (sometimes by means of audience members committing the lines to memory and dictating them later). Authors can take commissions, as well. There tends to be an inverse relation between price and the size of the audience. E.g. a wedding photographer can charge a lot because really no one cares about the photos he takes other than the families involved. But if ten thousand fans of a particular author each pledge a few dollars to get that author to write a book (there are some escrow schemes to make sure of the deliverables on both sides, roughly mirroring the means that authors and publishers already use to avoid either side being cheated) then that may be enough to get him to do it. Some people might not care about the copyright status of their work, because that's not how they plan to make their money (e.g. the work is just a draw for some other thing), or they're not interested in making money at all (much of YouTube).

And of course, the entire system always runs on authors and investors who are unduly optimistic. Remember, most authors are not stars, or even successful, and most works are of no or very little economic value. Copyright can't make works valuable, it just lets the copyright holder monopolize whatever value there is to be had anyway. Thus, a copyright on Gigli or Ishtar, or Heaven's Gate just isn't worth much.

Without copyright, established and popular authors tend to be better off than unknowns, but that's really how it is with copyright as well. And copyright isn't a magic method of getting popular. No one's figured out a perfect method for always making hits that will draw in a huge audience over the short and long term.

There is a likelihood that without the artificial incentive of copyright (or with less of an artificial incentive from reduced copyright) that fewer works will be created and published. That is a loss to the public. But the public gains from being less restricted as to those works. The important thing is to maximize the net public benefit, whether that requires more copyright or less. The effect upon authors and publishers, save for how that interacts with the public benefit, is of no consequence.

An example (2, Interesting)

coats (1068) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547281)

Edwin F. Kalmus & Co, Inc. (http://www.kalmus-music.com/ [kalmus-music.com] ) has made a successful business of selling public domain music scores for many years. You may recall that they were one of the plaintiffs in Eldred vs. Reno...

As an aside, they are one of only three honest classical-music publishers I know (the other two being Novello and Oxford U Press, both British); all the others make a practice of claiming copyright for music written even before the American revolution.

I think that such fraudulent claim of copyright (as is the usual music-publishing practice) should be punished at least as severely as copyright infringement. Scaled by the number of copies sold. And (under the legal doctrine of assumed competence) counted as wilful infringement, so that the penalty is at least $750/copy. Many of them would have fines measured in the tens or hundreds of millions.

Re:Divesting yourself of intellectual property (5, Insightful)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#24545955)

Most of the examples you gave seem more like "Less restrictive copyright helps" than no copyright. Give your songs for free! The money is on the tour... Of course, as long as another band doesn't do -exactly- the same songs with a bigger marketing budget (and if everyone does it, ONE of the bands who copy you will most likely be bteter). Also, thats as long as the video of your show isn't in hi definition 7.1 surround blu ray the day after it for free (or even worse, SOLD by someone else). With absolutely -zero- copyright, its a lot less powerful as a promotion tool. (Now it works because you're only letting indiviuals step in... once corporations can rape your copyright too, things get a little grim). Oh, and without IP laws, people can rip off your name, your logo, everything, and not only sell it as free promotion to you... but make it -theirs- and use it for -themselves-.

If you're really well known... no one will think the "fake" Metallica is the real thing. If you're just starting though? BANG! Gone.

For the photographer... yes, giving their pictures away is great if they get their money from hired work (all photographers I know do this). But lets remove all IP laws for a sec there... The photographer's customers aren't going to be too too happy once their FACE (your pictures that you, not only gave away, but couldn't restrict in any ways, shape and form) is on a box of cereals or used on TV to advertise condoms.

Overly strong IP laws and copyright hurts, yes. None at all though... That will leave only niche markets. Heck, look at the extremes like China... their "illegal" copying practices are only working at all because there are people across the ocean who invest millions and billions in their IP products, because they have market for them. The result's good enough that a ton of people are willing to pay for even copies... But if no one needed the original?

And you'd want to stop regulations on medecines? If you did that, medecines would be even LESS tested than they are now... The customers would be "beta testers" like they are in software... oh yeah, that would work. Sure, its far from perfect the way it is now... (a lot of info is "hidden" to push the medecine out even if its known not to work), but without any market restrictions, they could just lie in your face legally on medecines that were barely tested on mice, woohoo!

The only example you gave that would still work with zero copyright or IP laws is your own (the writer stuff). We agree I think that the current system is overboard and doing way way too much, and its hurting rather than helping... Its an extreme. I don't beleive the OTHER extreme is any better, however...

Re:Divesting yourself of intellectual property (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24546383)

The money is on the tour... Of course, as long as another band doesn't do -exactly- the same songs with a bigger marketing budget (and if everyone does it, ONE of the bands who copy you will most likely be bteter).

Great. So if, for example, a Beatles tribute band ends up being better than the Beatles (if they were still around), isn't that a good thing? Wouldn't the band deserve their profits? Why should the Beatles be given special protection from competition? And really, how much competition is there really going to be? It's a big world. There could be several bands playing the same songs as you, touring at exactly the same time as you, and it wouldn't matter because they would most likely be in different continents, in different countries, or in different states. In order for a band to feel the pinch of competition, there would have to be a lot of bands better than them, and if that's the case, well I really don't have any sympathy.

But lets remove all IP laws for a sec there... The photographer's customers aren't going to be too too happy once their FACE (your pictures that you, not only gave away, but couldn't restrict in any ways, shape and form) is on a box of cereals or used on TV to advertise condoms.

There are already laws against that that don't involve "IP" (that's a really crappy term: do you mean copyright?). The reason why you can't do that kind of thing legally without permission is because it implies an endorsement by that person and/or infringes on their privacy, not because their face is "IP".

Re:Divesting yourself of intellectual property (2, Funny)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546989)

And you'd want to stop regulations on medecines? If you did that, medecines would be even LESS tested than they are now... The customers would be "beta testers" like they are in software...

Doc, level with me. Is it bad? Do I have the BSOD?

Re:Divesting yourself of intellectual property (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547511)

Your comment cracks me up. As if competition in the form of imitation is so dangerous.

Did Will Ferrell put James Lipton out of business?

Re:Divesting yourself of intellectual property (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547603)

Oh, its not? Sure, for things that just require an idea out of nowhere, no problem. For things that require multi-million investments? Oh yes, I really want to spend money in 50 PhDs and some engineers to research something, while a hundred or so companies are just waiting on their ass for me to spit out my product, get a few months (if that!) of early market penetration, and then have it copied by people who don't have the R&D overhead to pay back (and thus only need to provide for the overhead of manufacturing, no need to pay the PhDs and engineers).

Yes, totally sounds like an awesome business plan. Sure, some giants do it -anyway- because they cannot wait for someone else to copy, but... not everyone has IBM's ressources.

Re:Divesting yourself of intellectual property (4, Insightful)

urcreepyneighbor (1171755) | more than 6 years ago | (#24545959)

In music, I helped 3 bands (one who is now on an international tour, has had MTV coverage, and sells out a lot of shows) move away from copyright.

That's great for you and the bands, but let's leave it up to the individuals and groups to decide if they want to take that path.

If someone busts his ass producing something, he has the right to determine what to do with it. If he wants to give it away, fine. If he wants to restrict it a million different ways, fine. It's his work, so it's his choice.

Our copyright system, while it does have flaws, enables people like you and the bands you've worked with to decide for yourselves what you want to do. Without a strong IP system, that choice will be taken away.

Re:Divesting yourself of intellectual property (4, Interesting)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547065)

If he wants to give it away, fine. If he wants to restrict it a million different ways, fine. It's his work, so it's his choice. [...] Without a strong IP system, that choice will be taken away.

My answer to this is quite simple: So? So what if the author doesn't have that choice?

The purpose of copyright law is to benefit the public, by increasing the level of quality in writing, music, software and other items covered by it. The mechanism used is letting the authors apply restrictions to their customers, which will (according to the implicit assumption) make more people pay the authors, which will make being an writer (musician, coder, etc.) be a good enough way of making a living that enough people will do so; spending eight hours per day on your craft will make you better than one who spends only their spare time (assuming there's less of that). That's how copyright is thought to fulfill its purpose.

If we let the authors grant fewer restriction, it might mean that some fraction of them will choose to enter a different business, and the public loses some of their products (they may still perform music or write code in their spare time). In return, since the public is less restricted, it will be able to use all authors' works to a larger extent.

Whether the trade-off is beneficial to the public depends on the specifics; but what is certain is that as long as copyright has its stated purpose, one should choose the option that benefits the public the most. Whether the authors lose options they have previously had should not, per se, influence the decision; it could, however, influence which option is best for the public, but you haven't argued that it does (or will).

The restrictions and the choice of whether and how to employ them are a means, not an end. You can't defend any means other than by showing how well they serve the end.

(sorry for the missing car analogy)

(insert a similarly styled rant on patents, and a similarly styled rant on trademarks, here)

Re:Divesting yourself of intellectual property (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547109)

The thing is though, that whatever restrictions an author might want to impose on his work, he can only enforce those restrictions with the consent of everyone else. If an author says that no one is allowed to sell used copies of his book, everyone can safely ignore him because the law grants him no power to prevent anyone from doing that. And the law gains its authority from the consent of the governed. We decide for ourselves what laws we are willing to empower the government we create to enact, and what laws are worth enacting or repealing. These laws determine the framework within which the author can translate his choices into actual control. And why would we cause laws to be enacted which are harmful to us, when we can have different laws which benefit us?

Without those laws, all an author can do is decide whether or not to create a work, whether or not to keep it a secret, and if he keeps it a secret, whether or not to destroy it. Once the secret is out (which almost always happens), he's lost control.

Personally, I think that copyright is a good idea, and if implemented properly can be very beneficial for the public. The problem is that the current laws are written to follow the whims of authors, and generally ignore the greater public benefit. If the public can benefit more from limiting some of the choices authors can make with regard to their published work at least (e.g. they can't prevent used copies from being sold, they can't prevent unflattering parodies, they can't prevent bad reviews which quote the work to make the point), then why shouldn't we do that? I don't see any advantage for me from giving authors the power to control such things. And if that's the case, perhaps we should look into other facets of copyright to see if there's anything else that needs fixing.

Accidental copying? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547245)

but let's leave it up to the individuals and groups to decide if they want to take that path.

So how do I avoid lawsuits from the individuals and groups who have decided not to take that path? What can a musician do to make sure that he doesn't accidentally copy part of a song that he had heard on the radio a decade ago?

Re:Divesting yourself of intellectual property (3, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546081)

Let's say that there was no copyright... then the reality of things is that publishers would have not have any incentive to publish the works of an unknown without an up-front payment (which means that only rich people could get published by the big publishers), because they would know that some other publisher could easily come in after the fact and copy the work at lower cost (because they wouldn't have to deal with royalties). Sure, one might argue that there never used to be copyright until only a few hundred years ago, and one might observe that artists seemed to get by before then, but let's remember that back then, copying something was very hard work... it had to be done by hand and was error prone and tedious enough that it was sufficient deterrent for somebody to try to produce accurate unauthorized copies of published works. Not that this stopped some unscrupulous people from trying, but inevitably, such efforts would fail simply due to the unreliability of the process and the person trying to publish unauthorized copies just could not compete. Today, copying can be done by anybody with no more effort than pushing a button.

Okay... so if publishers aren't willing to take on people who may represent an unknown quantity, then the artist would just have to publish himself, right? In the day of the internet that might not seem be a problem, except again... with no copyright to protect the artist from somebody else copying the work without consent, somebody else with a larger distribution capability could easily take a copy of the work and start distributing it themselves, possibly charging for the work, perhaps not, but suddenly without copyright there's not a darn thing the original artist can do about it. One might argue that the original artist should be happy that his work is being received by a wider audience, but if the artist had originally intended to profit from his distribution of the work, that avenue would now be closed. This would seem to me to quite strongly conflict with your aforementioned notion that copyright results in less profit for the artists. And this hits even harder if the publisher who copied the work starts trying to take the credit for the work. You may be able to partially solve that issue by creating new laws that specifically prohibit plagiarism, but copyright already solved that notion.

If you can present workable solution to the above problems in the absence of copyright, I'd be eager to hear them.

Re:Divesting yourself of intellectual property (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547251)

Sure, one might argue that there never used to be copyright until only a few hundred years ago, and one might observe that artists seemed to get by before then, but let's remember that back then, copying something was very hard work... it had to be done by hand and was error prone and tedious enough that it was sufficient deterrent for somebody to try to produce accurate unauthorized copies of published works. Not that this stopped some unscrupulous people from trying, but inevitably, such efforts would fail simply due to the unreliability of the process and the person trying to publish unauthorized copies just could not compete.

That is not even slightly true. There were lots of pirate publishers in ages past (in fact, that meaning of the word 'pirate' predates the first modern copyright law by decades!). Your mistake is in comparing the ease of publication then, with the ease of publication now. That's incorrect, though. What you need to look at is the ease of publication for an authorized publisher, compared with an unauthorized publisher, at the same point in time. And you'll find that it's always the same, or that the authorized publisher has a slight advantage from legitimacy, by being able to operate openly. When everyone was using moveable type printing presses, the only big difference between publishers was who had access to a copy of the work, and who could avoid censorship or sanction by the state or a guild. Nowadays, it is much easier for anyone to be a publisher, but the same tools that an ordinary pirate uses are quite available to authorized publishers. No technical issue is preventing RIAA or MPAA members from distributing their works via Bit Torrent or whatever. They just don't want to. And as for optical media, the authorized publishers tend to have an advantage in economies of scale. Pirates either have to sneak in time at the same facility used legitimately, buy their own at great expense, or deal with more expensive per unit forms of disc making (e.g. DVDRs, which cost more to make than pressed DVDs, in volume).

And Games? (1, Insightful)

cliffski (65094) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546133)

I make singleplayer PC games. Can you explain to me how abandoning copyright makes me better off?

I hear these claims a lot. They generally come from people who aren't the ones risking their livelihood on an unproven business model.

Re:And Games? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546369)

I make singleplayer PC games. Can you explain to me how abandoning copyright makes me better off?

Well, obviously they'll be great marketing tools for all those millionaires who want to commission more single-player games.

No, wait, that's wrong. You're in the wrong market! Yeah, that's it. You should be making multiplayer games. You could provide a subscription to a server that hosts the games, and hope that no-one else will reverse engineer your code in ten minutes and then provide a different server more cheaply.

Oh, wait, people already do that sort of thing. I guess you'll just have to ship every game you sell only with a contract that states that the person receiving it won't copy and distribute it further, so that you can afford to sell it at a price many individual customers would be willing to pay and the sum of all the small payments would provide you a worthwhile profit. Yeah, that might work. If only I could think of a name for reserving the right to copy something... Nope, I got nothing, sorry.

Re:And Games? (3, Insightful)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547039)

Oh, wait, people already do that sort of thing.

Of course they do. Let's look at World of Warcraft. The open source project MaNGOS [mangosproject.org] provides a reasonable facsimile of the WoW backend, and a couple of other open source projects provide decent content for that backend. It's all free, one can easily customize their server to allow players to do all sorts of interesting things that Blizzard's servers won't, and one can fix bugs they come across if they've a mind to. Yet Blizzard continues to maintain a paid monthly user base of 10 million or so.

Why is that? Mostly, it's because Blizzard continues to make a product that's perceived to be better than the alternatives. The MaNGOS servers tend to be sparsely populated, somewhat glitchy, and don't have all the quests and other content implemented correctly, and having that consistency is worth money to a lot of people. I would tend to believe that whether copyright was involved or not, the company would still continue to make money simply by providing the superior product.

Re:And Games? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547337)

I make singleplayer PC games. Can you explain to me how abandoning copyright makes me better off?

Well, obviously they'll be great marketing tools for all those millionaires who want to commission more single-player games.

No, wait, that's wrong. You're in the wrong market! Yeah, that's it. You should be making multiplayer games.

What does multiplayer have to do with it? It doesn't matter how many gamepads are plugged into the PC or how many PCs are plugged into a private LAN. As long as a program doesn't need to interact with a central server in order to run, unauthorized copies can be made to work.

Re:Divesting yourself of intellectual property (1)

serutan (259622) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546135)

Wow, thanks for that amazing post. I don't entirely follow your medicine argument; the FDA's mission, whether they accomplish it or not, is to protect the public from snakeoil. But that aside, I'm glad you've freed yourself from the need to build a castle wall around your creations. I hope other writers and artists read your post and that you post more about your personal success every chance you get.

FDA's mssion... (2, Interesting)

coats (1068) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547051)

...is to engage in power games, independent of their actual Constitutional authority to do so.

Cases in point: they suppressed publication of research about

  • Aspirin treatment for heart attacks
  • Bacterial (H. Pylori) causation for ulcers.

In the first of these, the FDA was more murderous than the Vietnam War; in the second, they were responsible for more torture than the Spanish Inquisition.

And their only use for altruism is to use it to try to whitewash their lust for power.

Re:Divesting yourself of intellectual property (4, Insightful)

xigxag (167441) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546235)

I have my own personal theories on this matter. As a writer myself, I repudiate copyright on all I do. I openly ask others to reprint my writings, and even stick their own names on it if they want. Because I write about niche markets, the aid of distribution of my thoughts means more people are attracted to those ideas, which means they'll likely eventually find me. That's a huge benefit for me as I can then sell future newbies to the market on my newsletters, or even hire myself out as a ghost writer or personal writer. My income has surged because I don't copyright my writings, or even ask others to attribute me during the redistribution process.

--xigxag.

Re:Divesting yourself of intellectual property (3, Insightful)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547035)

There is probably room for both.

At least 90% of the work done is bread and butter work, where the need and use of IP protection is outright counter-productive. The remaining 10% is where it may be worth to do some IP protection, but you shouldn't be too obnoxious about that either.

The only things worth to protect are the few items that can be classified as "Brilliant". And there are very few that actually has that class. And it's impossible to tell which picture or music tract that is going to be the next new hit. So your idea of spreading your work to give you more work has some merit.

The big disadvantage with IP protection schemes is that you as a producer will have to do the work of protecting your IP. (OK, you may hire a lawyer) but in effect it will result in that you have less and less time and resources over to produce something new.

In technology patents are also a way of protection against patent trolls. Which means that the patent offices and lawyers are the only ones really profiting from this scheme.

But there is also another way to cut it. You may spread your work widely but with an usage clause that states that as long as it's for non-commercial use it's free to use. I.e. nobody else shall be able to use your picture to do a profit unless you get a cut of the deal. And reasonable deals can always be worked out.

Touring is not always an easy answer (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547069)

In music, I helped 3 bands (one who is now on an international tour, has had MTV coverage, and sells out a lot of shows) move away from copyright. Tell your fans to bootleg your album, and amazing stuff materializes. It's free promotion, and the tour is where you make your money.

How should bands in genres that aren't suited to live performance make their money? And how will touring still make money as the cost of energy for transportation rises?

Online music distribution has already destroyed the record stores.

Really? I bet the major music publishers could find something in their vast back catalogs that's close enough to the new independent music that they can pull a Bright Tunes v. Harrisongs against any online recording artist who makes it big.

Re:Divesting yourself of intellectual property (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24547107)

And yet the homepage that you pimp on this site has zero copyright disclaimer notices. So we have yet another example of someone who wants one set of rules for themselves and one for everyone else.

WKRP DVD is crap because of this... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24545863)

"WKRP in Cincinnati" was a mildly popular TV show in the late 70s/early 80s. It was one of my favorite shows and I waited anxioously for it to be released on DVD. Delays delays delays until finally, last year it was released. Unfortunately it was butchered. You see popular (for its time) music played an integral part of the background of the show and quite often character dialog was over music. Unfortunately, when the time came to release the DVD, music rights could not be secured and they had to re-dub the audio of major major parts of most of the show with different (not the original) actors. If you, like I do, remember the show vividly, these re-dubs jolt the senses and make the DVD basically unwatchable.

TDz.
 

Re:WKRP DVD is crap because of this... (2, Insightful)

penix1 (722987) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546113)

This goes to a major flaw in the author's thinking:

The commons leads to overuse and destruction; the anticommons leads to underuse and waste.

The first part of that is only true of finite resources like the field he uses as an example. For things like the music in your DVD, those are not finite resources since when they are used it doesn't take anything away from the original. However, I agree with his second part that too much ownership, especially for as long as we are talking about for copyright, does lead to underuse and waste as your DVD story shows. It also leads to waste of a different kind namely the waste of resources, time and money in litigating violations.

Translation: (4, Interesting)

rah1420 (234198) | more than 6 years ago | (#24545875)

Individual right holders value their contribution to the overall project as a significant fraction of the project value

Let me translate.

People are greedy.

Making a profit is good. Making a fair profit is better.

Of course, this article points out what the problem is without tendering a solution. No, I don't have a solution, either. Is this just human nature?

I recall reading in "A Brief History of Nearly Everything" how an anthropologist was paying a local tribe a bounty for every bone or fragment recovered from a fossil field. He soon discovered that the bounty hunters were smashing the large bones into tiny fragments in order to maximize their profit.

In this case, of course, it's an ill-thought-out bounty - whereas I don't know the answer for the IP question from the article. However, it points out the same conclusion: People will tend to maximize their profit whenever they see a way to do it that doesn't involve extra work on their part.

Move it back to 14 years. (5, Informative)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546279)

Copyrights / patents ... if you cannot turn a profit in 14 years then it's your fault.

The system was not ORIGINALLY intended to provide someone with a lifetime's worth of income. It was to ENCOURAGE development.

Calculating Loss (1)

quacking duck (607555) | more than 6 years ago | (#24545885)

As he points out, the result of this is an invisible loss: drugs not made, software not written. The loss is impossible to quantify and difficult to see.

Perhaps we should resort to *AA-style "loss calculations." Two can play at that game, and it would be just as valid.

I'd prefer not to stoop to their level, but you don't win against a bully by fighting fair.

Re:Calculating Loss (1, Flamebait)

bunratty (545641) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546027)

If there were no patent law, no new drugs would be made. It costs many millions of dollars to find a new drug, prove it is safe and effective, find the proper dose, and get it approved. Without patent protection, a drug company would have no way to earn their money back. The argument is a strawman.

I don't understand the "software not written" part. Doesn't the GPL depend on the copyright? Sounds like another strawman.

Re:Calculating Loss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24546167)

It costs many millions of dollars to find a new drug, prove it is safe and effective, find the proper dose, and get it approved.

Without patents, the equipment needed to test & produce these drugs would be cheaper reducing costs a bit.

Without patent protection, a drug company would have no way to justify their extortionate overpricing.

Fixed that for you.

Re:Calculating Loss (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546309)

The money spent on getting a drug approved is not spent on the equipment but on people. You need to pay people to make the drugs, give the drugs to volunteers, take the drugs, collect the data, analyze the data, write the reports, and so on. Without patent protection, any company could produce a generic version of the drug without having to pay the money on research, so no company would be willing to do the research. It would guarantee a huge loss.

Re:Calculating Loss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24546747)

And the drug companies could afford a larger violin to play in the background during your sob story there, if only they hadn't blown their budget wad on marketing. Patents may or may not play a large role in being able to bring a drug to market, but apparently the only reason anyone takes a drug anymore is if they see naked old people in bathtubs on top of a mountain for no reason. God forbid they take the drug because their doctor tells them to.

Re:Calculating Loss (3, Insightful)

cduffy (652) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546403)

Drugs are a special case; much of why the patent system is such a mess is that the same rules are applied to drugs and software, while the economics behind the two fields are so different.

Getting back to making an effort at explaining the parent's (grandparent's?) comments -- without indicating any agreement with the same:

Sure, the GPL depends on copyright... so what? Folks can't make derivative works combining GPLed works with proprietary software (or software under permissive but incompatible licenses, which there are a lot of) -- and such proposed derivative works really are "software not written". (What do I mean by "proprietary" in a proposed world without copyright? Source code is a trade secret, object code is obscured). There've been plenty of fan-based projects trying to resurrect classic games by writing modern engines for them shut down because the original copyright holder -- while not selling the original game -- refuses to allow creation of the involved derivative work... and there are plenty of cases where Free Software avoids implementing functionality which is known to be patented; look at how the development of Tux3 was held up.

The argument that there are works not created due to restrictions via intellectual property laws is quite sound. That said, I tend to give credence to the position that intellectual property protection is necessary for much (not all) commercial development to take place as well... but that level of protection doesn't need to be anything like what it is today. Personally, I'd like to see copyright durations rolled back to their original values, and patents only available in fields where they make sense (not business models, not software)... but the latter seems unlikely, and the former flat-out impossible.

Re:Calculating Loss (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546803)

If there were no patent law, no new drugs would be made. It costs many millions of dollars to find a new drug, prove it is safe and effective, find the proper dose, and get it approved. Without patent protection, a drug company would have no way to earn their money back. The argument is a strawman.

Of course new drugs would be made. Without new drugs, everyone would be selling the same old drugs all the time. That would give you an excellent opportunity to bust the market wide open by introducing something new. You develop it, keep it secret, get the approval and sell. Anyone else needs to do the same approval process, which will take them the same time, so the market is yours for years. It stops being yours when someone else figures out the same things as you did - but then what makes you think you should have any right on other peoples inventions?

If anything, patent law prevents improvement of existing drugs. The patent holder has no need for improvement, because they have a monopoly on the drug anyway. Their competitors have no incentive for improving it, because the original is patented and you can't turn your improvements into money.

Publication of active ingredient; cross-licensing (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547415)

You develop it, keep it secret, get the approval and sell. Anyone else needs to do the same approval process, which will take them the same time

Even if the approval process includes public documentation of the active ingredient?

Their competitors have no incentive for improving it, because the original is patented and you can't turn your improvements into money.

I thought it was called a "cross-license": You can use my improvement if I can use your original invention.

Re:Calculating Loss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24547593)

It costs many millions of dollars to find a new drug, prove it is safe and effective, find the proper dose, and get it approved.

It sure does, except that universities funded by public dollars are already doing most of the work, i.e. we've collectively already paid most of the actual development cost of new drugs before the companies get to it. Seriously, when over half the budget for a drug goes into advertising, you know that the profit is exorbitant.

Re:Calculating Loss (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546443)

I'd prefer not to stoop to their level, but you don't win against a bully by fighting fair.

On the contrary, usually that is exactly how you beat a bully. Most bullies win precisely because the people they are bullying consider themselves constrained in ways the bullies do not. Release those constraints to put the participants on an equal footing, and most bullies lose very quickly.

This applies almost universally, whether you're talking about the kid who gets beaten up at school because the teachers always tell him not to fight back, or the RIAA cases against song swappers where one side has to pay silly legal fees just to get their day in court while the other side pays no legal fees if it gets settled out of court.

However, you're right that the results of the "loss calculations" for works never produced because of copyright would be just as valid as the RIAA's, which is to say not at all.

Lucky us...they want the same thing in Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24545887)

Write your MPs now and tell them to can C-61.

Invisible? (2, Insightful)

thermian (1267986) | more than 6 years ago | (#24545901)

How so, I thought it's been blindingly obvious for many years.

Patents, once the means to help an inventor have a little time to make their money back, have become an economic weapon. That was never going to end well.

Re:Invisible? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546481)

I think that happened around the time they started giving patents out for things that weren't actually significantly inventions at all, and allowing write-ups of the claims that were so hopelessly generic that they did not (as originally intended) provide a means for others to reproduce a significant invention when the durationg of protection expired. The duration of protection is itself arguably too long in some fields as well, but that's not the biggest problem IMHO. Patents as originally conceived are a reasonable proposal for incentivising the sharing of new inventions, but the practice is now so far from the principle that the whole system is beyond hope. Let's hope the recent sparks of common sense in the US and Europe result in doing something about this.

Re:Invisible? (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547045)

The 'invisible' part specifically refers to the negative productivity of resource-hoarding. In traditional tragedy-of-the-commons situations it's easy to quantify the value of the meadow that's now a barren desert. But when development isn't happening, you have no idea what didn't happen: the stuff choked off is invisible.

Now, this is somewhat akin to arguing that if you don't have all the kids you can, you might be missing the next Einstein: while true, it also makes silly assumptions.

Another form of gridlock (5, Insightful)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546035)

I've seen a situation where a few major manufacturers dominate a field (which i wont name) but all have cross-licensing agreements with each other.

It'd be like Ford holding patents on wheels, doors and windows but GM holding streering wheels and brakes. Then they agree to cross license all their patent portfolios.

This effectively makes it nearly impossible for a newcomer to break into the field. They don't have the resources to challenge fords "wheels" patent, and all the people who are resourced to have that thrown out - aren't motivated to because they have a licensing agreement.

Re:Another form of gridlock (1)

urcreepyneighbor (1171755) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546115)

This effectively makes it nearly impossible for a newcomer to break into the field.

What if the newcomer develops a new method of transportation? Hovercraft [hovercraft.com] , jetpack [jetpackinternational.com] , skycar [moller.com] , Segway [segway.com] ?

One of the benefits of the patent system is that it forces people to keep coming up with new ideas. Especially the newcomer.

Re:Another form of gridlock (4, Informative)

russotto (537200) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546143)

What if the newcomer develops a new method of transportation? Hovercraft, jetpack, skycar, Segway?

Then he's sued out of business because chances are, his novel method of transportation infringes on at least one of the big boys' patents. Sure, his propulsion method is new... but what about that suspension? OK, he's got a new suspension... but the fuel delivery system is covered. Or the windscreen.

Re:Another form of gridlock (0)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546545)

In which case, he will need to either compensate the patent holders for using the protected inventions he is building on, sell the rights to his idea to a larger group that can take advantage of it, or wait until the existing protections expire. If the new idea is worth a lot, the first is usually what happens. If it's worth a bit, the second is usually what happens. If it's not really worth much, the third is what happens. If the idea was worth enough that the inventor kept the patents himself and licensed work in from others, then he will also be in a position to be compensated or buy additional rights later when other people come up with ideas building further on this starting point. This is exactly how the system is supposed to work, and as long as patents are only awarded for genuinely original and valuable ideas, cross-licensing as part of the agreements is a natural consequence and results in both parties being able to bring better products to market. The problems only start when defensive vapour-patents get awarded, and that has nothing to do with cross-licensing as such.

Re:Another form of gridlock (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546655)

In which case, he will need to either compensate the patent holders for using the protected inventions he is building on,

RTFA, this apparently doesn't work so well when there are too many patent holders. What happens when there are 3 who each want 50%?

sell the rights to his idea to a larger group that can take advantage of it,

And it gets integrated into an existing product lineup at a price chosen to not impact sales of other parts of that lineup, rather than standing on its own and possibly disrupting the industry to the benefit of the general public.

or wait until the existing protections expire.

Which holds everything back by a couple decades, making everyone worse off.

Re:Another form of gridlock (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546855)

RTFA, this apparently doesn't work so well when there are too many patent holders. What happens when there are 3 who each want 50%?

They are being unrealistically greedy, and negotiation will probably follow because it is almost certainly in their interests to accept a realistic level of royalties rather than making no money at all.

If there are three existing suppliers who would truly be undermined sufficiently in their own markets to make it unrealistic for them to accept lower royalties, then that's just too bad: patent protection does grant a temporary monopoly, and that was the deal when those other three suppliers all brought their products to market in the first place. You can't just assume that they would all have produced the same products and distributed them at the same prices in the absence of that protection, such that preventing the distribution of the new invention is a net loss.

Basically, as long as patents are awarded in the spirit they were originally intended, market forces will normally do the rest.

And it gets integrated into an existing product lineup at a price chosen to not impact sales of other parts of that lineup, rather than standing on its own and possibly disrupting the industry to the benefit of the general public.

If the new work has sufficient disruptive value, this will not happen, because the market's perception of the value of products incorporating the extra invention will be different to what it was before. If this quiet incorporation scenario is what happens, the pretty much implies that the new work did not have sufficient disruptive value to upset the market. I don't see any problem here.

Which holds everything back by a couple decades, making everyone worse off.

That isn't necessarily true. For one thing, you are assuming that not sharing the new invention was a loss, yet if the work had significant value to the market, it is unlikely that no-one would have been willing to make an offer for the rights. For another thing, this doesn't prevent the market from taking advantage of other inventions that are already being marketed under patent protections, which of course might not have been available to the market if those patent protections were not available as well. That is, after all, the motivation for offering patent protection in the first place.

Re:Another form of gridlock (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547043)

They are being unrealistically greedy, and negotiation will probably follow because it is almost certainly in their interests to accept a realistic level of royalties rather than making no money at all.

And yet we can see from history (such as the airplanes mentioned in TFA...) that this doesn't happen reliably.

Basically, as long as patents are awarded in the spirit they were originally intended, market forces will normally do the rest.

I'm not so sure of this, since it seems to only look at one side of the picture. Much progress requires cooperation, and exclusive rights grant people the opportunity to forbid such cooperation. We know that this does happen (and actually seems to be built in to human nature, success is relative to your neighbors instead of absolute), the questions are just how it compares to the benefit that comes from providing incentives for research, and whether there's a way to provide those incentives without the downsides of exclusivity.

Re:Another form of gridlock (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547447)

And yet we can see from history (such as the airplanes mentioned in TFA...) that this doesn't happen reliably.

It might not happen 100% reliably, but if the only counter-example cited in the whole article is a scenario in one industry in one country from nearly a century ago, I'll take my chances. I note that the article cites multiple more recent examples where players in diverse markets have collaborated effectively for mutual benefit.

Much progress requires cooperation, and exclusive rights grant people the opportunity to forbid such cooperation.

Sure, but the only cost they can impose on competitors is losing the value of the exclusive invention, which for a lot of defensive patents isn't much, particularly since everyone knows the patent protection is unlikely to stand up in court and they're only filing because it's cheaper to pay the costs of seeking a defensive patent than it is to pay the legal costs of defending a court case against someone else who got it instead.

Forbidding co-operation if you have a valuable invention that you can license for royalties is usually against your own economic interests, which is why most big businesses have these cross-licensing deals rather than everyone stonewalling.

the questions are just how it compares to the benefit that comes from providing incentives for research, and whether there's a way to provide those incentives without the downsides of exclusivity.

I personally am certainly not claiming that patents or copyright are the only possible schemes for incentivising the creation and sharing of new products. There are other potentially viable schemes, such as public funding, but personally I prefer the idea of relying on market forces to the idea of higher taxes and allowing government to decide what works I might like to fund with my hard-earned cash when they take it away from me.

If anyone has a realistic alternative that doesn't require the exclusivity, doesn't screw the people doing the hard work, and still gets at least the same quantity and quality of works distributed to at least the same number people, I'm all ears. But the idea that everything should be free is just wishful thinking on the part of those who don't like paying for stuff. It can work sometimes because of the side effects, and it's certainly possible for some people to build a viable business model on that basis. But still, while running loss-leaders can be a useful technique, selling things at a price that doesn't recover the costs indefinitely will sink your company.

Re:Another form of gridlock (4, Informative)

localman (111171) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547209)

Your take is absolutely correct. A place I worked got a letter from NCR once we got big enough. It basically said: "You are in the computer industry, therefore you are almost surely violating some of our patents. Either cough up x% of your revenue, or we'll go to court and find out which patents you're violating."

Re:Another form of gridlock (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24546819)

But you only could buy cars from Ford with steering wheels and brakes from GM.

Fort will never ever have any competition in the same field. No Porche, Ferrari, Rolls or whatever. You will only have one dull model every 5 years and only one colour. And the price would be extreme high. Why not? Without any significant competition they can do that all. Nobody will stop them.

The same thing can be done in the software field. But that would never happen in the real world hmmm?

Re:Another form of gridlock (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24546809)

I work for one of the top 10 computer software companies in the US. The company has been holding patenting seminars for the express purpose of building up a mutually assured destruction patent portfolio. As the internet becomes more and more relevant, the company realized that we were essentially at the mercy of the companies like Microsoft and Amazon who have been patenting basic and unoriginal web functionality for years. Now we are encouraged to spend a couple of hours a month working on patents.

I'm working on my first patent application... it's basically "yet another application of multifaceted search". I feel a little bad about patenting something that feels so obviously unpatentable, unlicensable, and unoriginal, but because it is so important to our corporate strategy there are significant cash bonuses attached to both the filing of the patent and the granting. With annual revenues greater than $1B and growing, we can afford to have our bright minds diverted into this wasteful endeavour. We can always hire more bright minds. And thus we continue to get sucked into the game that nobody wants to play.

I can't imagine what we would do if we were a startup. We have a team of patent lawyers whose sole purpose is to assist us in writing and filing patent applications. Patent lawyers are the most expensive kind of lawyers, and a startup can barely afford to have a patent attorney let one of his paralegals try to cram the idea into a boilerplate patent application, let alone hire a full-time team of experts in the world of software patents.

Three step solution (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24546047)

1. Full disclosure of the intellectual property, including human readable, compilable source code for any algorithms covered by patent, and programs covered by copyright. (Yes, that means source code for Windows.)

2. Declared value for all intellectual property, with taxes levied based on the value. The owner could set the value at zero in order to escape taxation, but that leads to...

3. Competitive bidding, where any person or group can offer an amount higher than the declared value to put the property in the public domain. The owner would have the option of matching the bid (and paying taxes on the new declared value), or accepting the money and releasing the property into the public domain.

To give an example, let's say I write the great American novel. As the creator, I own the rights to it. I declare a value of $0 because I hate paying taxes, and shop around for a publisher.

Unfortunately, no publisher wants to give me my preferred price of $100K. One offers me a $10K advance for exclusive rights, which I ignore. He then bids $5K to put the book into the public domain. I then have a choice of matching that bid (and paying whatever tax rate has been decided), negotiating with that publisher for a higher price, negotiating with another publisher for a higher price, or accepting the 5 grand and releasing the work to the public.

This not only encourages new work and allows derivative work, it also forces intellectual property to be used.

Re:Three step solution (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546319)

And if you can't afford $5K? Then you don't copyright the work at all, you keep it as a trade secret and only allow publishers to read it with an NDA. None of them want it, so it's never released. Eventually, after your death, someone finds the manuscript and publishes it. Does society benefit from waiting 50 years to even read it (let alone have it enter the public domain)? Do you or society benefit from you being unable to make money from the first book, and therefore unable to afford to write the second?

The publisher doesn't have to offer a fair amount, just more than you can afford. The people who benefit the most from this are movie studios. They can take your book, put it in the public domain, make a film adaptation and copyright that. No one can compete with them, because they can afford to outbid most other groups to keep the copyright on the film active for as long as it makes them a profit.

Re:Three step solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24546923)

And if you can't afford $5K? Then you don't copyright the work at all, you keep it as a trade secret and only allow publishers to read it with an NDA.

And? Even assuming an unknown author can get a publisher to look at his work with an NDA, I doubt you could convince the book-buying public to do so. A publisher doesn't get rich by selling five books at a million dollars a copy, but a million books at five dollars a copy. The situation would be no different that it is at present, since the general public doesn't get to paw through the slush pile anyway.

None of them want it, so it's never released. Eventually, after your death, someone finds the manuscript and publishes it. Does society benefit from waiting 50 years to even read it (let alone have it enter the public domain)? Do you or society benefit from you being unable to make money from the first book, and therefore unable to afford to write the second?

You are hypothesizing a book (program, invention) so wonderful that it can't afford to be published, and an author who would rather hold it in secret for the rest of his life than to sell for less than what he thinks is worth.

The publisher doesn't have to offer a fair amount, just more than you can afford. The people who benefit the most from this are movie studios. They can take your book, put it in the public domain, make a film adaptation and copyright that.

And a group of people can get together, and bid for the adaptation themselves -- forcing the studio to sell the work, or pay more in taxes. Or they can simply use the work that is now in the public domain and make their own adaptation. Disney still might have Mickey Mouse, but they damned sure would be paying more than the bribes...er, campaign contributions they send to Congress to extend their IP rights every few years.

No one can compete with them, because they can afford to outbid most other groups to keep the copyright on the film active for as long as it makes them a profit.

They can afford to outbid only if they can afford to pay the taxes -- and if they value the work too low, then others would be happy to bid it up. And in a sense, it is just like taxes on real property -- you aren't renting from the government, but paying them for the services and protection they provide to your property. Likewise, if I have a million dollar piece of intellectual property and want the government to protect it for me, I should be willing to give to society the cost of doing so.

A final note, if a certain piece of property (intellectual or real) is more valuable to society than it is to the owner of the property as a monopoly, and the public is willing to give the owner the price they set for the property, then isn't the Pareto efficient solution to transfer the property to the public domain?

Re:Three step solution (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547321)

This happens now. Publishers of all sorts get many more manuscripts than they actually publish. If an author can't find anyone willing to invest in publishing the work, he either has to self-publish or let the work collect dust. Often, no one is ever interested in it, and it never gets published, not in 50 years, not ever.

This is actually a good reason to require depositing copies of the work in the Library of Congress as a condition of getting a copyright in the US (and requiring and funding the LoC so that it keeps them). Maybe no one will ever care about it; that's perfectly common. But it's better than works sitting in closets or getting thrown in the trash.

Multiple copyrighted adaptations of a PD book (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547483)

They can take your book, put it in the public domain, make a film adaptation and copyright that. No one can compete with them, because they can afford to outbid most other groups to keep the copyright on the film active for as long as it makes them a profit.

Studio D's copyright on a film adaptation of a given public domain book doesn't prevent studio N from getting its own copyright on Warner's own film adaptation of the same book. See Pinocchio (1940) vs. The Adventures of Pinocchio (1996) and every other adaptation of Collodi's novel before or since.

Re:Three step solution (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546353)

No, it forces you to go back to the publisher and beg for the $10k. Or not you specifically, but people who can't afford to pay the taxes on what their thing is worth while shopping it around.

Fortunately, I also have a half-baked solution to the problem which doesn't require any changes to the current laws. In fact, it works just as well under indefinite copyright as it does under properly limited copyright.

I call it the "don't wait for government to solve your problems" plan. [slashdot.org]

No sale at any price short of market cap (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547549)

I call it the "don't wait for government to solve your problems" plan. [slashdot.org]

Because the discussion in your journal has been automatically archived after two weeks, I have to reply here. Your solution is to have some organization buy copyrights from their owners. But copyright owners will probably decline to sell key copyrights for any price less than the market capitalization of the company. For example, Disney will probably want $60 billion for Song of the South, which it continues to keep out of print for political reasons, claiming that publishing the work would expose Disney to accusations of racism. Individual and privately held copyright owners have even more of an incentive to be "irrational" as you call it.

Re:Three step solution (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24546421)

The people who write these sweeping articles attacking IP typically fail to point out the huge difference between patents and copyrights. In the case of patents, the same idea often occurs to several people nearly simultaneously; often the "winner" is the person who went through the trouble of filing for a patent on what seemed to the others to be a commonplace idea. A bad patent can block progress in a field, or create a mess of litigation, as we've seen with JPEG and streaming video.

In the case of a copyrighted work of literature, art, music, or software, it is highly unlikely that anyone else would have come up with the same work had the author not done so. And the copyright holder cannot prevent someone else from coming up with a work that resembles his or hers, so long as care is taken not to lift passages of prose or source code verbatim or steal video footage, copy the names of characters and places, etc.

I suspect that the popularity of these articles is closely related to the huge popularity of illegal firesharing, especially among teenagers and 20-somethings. People need to rationalize to themselves that there isn't anything wrong with what they and their friends are doing, that they aren't criminals and it's not the same as shoplifting, etc. And so they look for intellectual arguments to copyright as amounting to some sort of hoarding of public goods. It's all drivel because copyright does not prevent people from creating their own original works and freely sharing them via open source or creative commons licenses, or releasing them into the public domain.

Re:Three step solution (1)

kz45 (175825) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546645)

"1. Full disclosure of the intellectual property, including human readable, compilable source code for any algorithms covered by patent, and programs covered by copyright. (Yes, that means source code for Windows.)"

The problem is that if the source code is viewable, anybody can take it, compile it, and give it out for free (and once it's released, it would be almost impossible for the IP owner to stop it).

"2. Declared value for all intellectual property, with taxes levied based on the value. The owner could set the value at zero in order to escape taxation, but that leads to..."

Why do you want to make it more difficult for businesses? I don't understand this mentality. It will just lead to businesses moving to other countries without these asinine restrictions and there will be less jobs for people in the US. Is this what you want?

"Competitive bidding, where any person or group can offer an amount higher than the declared value to put the property in the public domain. The owner would have the option of matching the bid (and paying taxes on the new declared value), or accepting the money and releasing the property into the public domain."

So if I value my software at $1000 and somebody bids $1001 and wins, it goes into the public domain?

If these laws were in place today, you would see commercial software companies make an immediate jump to SaaS (software as a service) (Microsoft is already starting to this this). No source = no piracy :-).

"This not only encourages new work and allows derivative work, it also forces intellectual property to be used."

This does not encourage new work. It will only encourage companies to stop producing work where these laws are in place.

Re:Three step solution (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546707)

Cute, but economically naive. Your mechanism imposes taxes in advance of anyone receiving any actual income, so everyone will just declare a value of $0 on all works initially. It imposes the risk for successfully selling a work on anyone willing to defend the rights to a work, potentially before they have time to establish what realistic price for that work would be acceptable to the market. It removes a lot of competition between publishers, since anyone buying rights would potentially wind up double-paying only to see the work in the public domain so everyone could distribute it anyway, while anyone paying to have the work released into the public domain is just giving up money that their competitors are not for no commercial advantage. Basically, your model is completely broken.

The current system already achieves all the benefits of your system anyway: businesses pay taxes on profits, and the more of a copyright work they sell, the more tax they pay. Moreover, if anyone thinks the source code for Windows should be in the public domain, they can make Microsoft an offer to buy the rights for it. If it's a credible offer relative to the potential profits Microsoft expects to make, I'm sure they will take it. Right now, the market values Microsoft at around $257 billion, so if you assume roughly half their profits come from Windows, an offer around the $200 billion mark might be attractive enough for investors to take it.

IP Rights can be a Religion (3, Insightful)

serutan (259622) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546101)

Discussing patents and copyrights can quickly become an exercise in futility when people have an almost religious fervor about their rights. While some would say that copying ideas is natural human behavior, which IP laws artificially restrict to a degree in the name of public good, others would argue that IP is an inherent human right which IP laws simply recognize. These two positions are fundamentally opposed.

But even IP fundamentalist can be convinced that fully exercising one's own rights is not always in one's own best interest. For example, suppose we believed that each of us had the innate right to rule the world and everything in it. That right would work fine if humans could live far enough apart so as never to have any contact with each other. We could live under the illusion of total dominion (at least until we wanted to reproduce). But stubbornly defending that right in practice would be a huge obstacle to forming any kind of functioning society.

Modern IP laws and their vocal proponents have gone a long way toward convincing the public that IP rights are indeed inherent and sacred, not merely privileges granted by lawmakers "for limited times," but a fundamental requirement of civilization. In discussions about limiting copyrights or patent rights, IP fundamentalists invoke images of a backward, anarchic world without modern conveniences, medicines, literature or basic services. It's a false dichotomy, but one that has been painted all too vividly on the public's mind.

I've always found that real-world examples are a good way to point out the flaws in absolutist arguments. The example of the aircraft patent pool illustrates how IP cooperation can be beneficial even when it has to be forced. But there are readers out there who will argue that even that specific example was a bad idea. Some people feel threatened by any notion that something they consider theirs might be taken away from them. They seem to feel that losing everything is at stake whenever they give up anything, and that totalitarianism is always just around the corner. I don't know how to communicate with those people.

Remember kids (1)

Ghubi (1102775) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546123)

Sharing is a crime. Never share anything.

Re:Remember kids (2, Insightful)

cliffski (65094) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546159)

share stuff you made all you want. Nobody cares. Its when you share stuff other people worked hard to create, that we have a problem.
Most people see that as blindingly obvious.

Re:Remember kids (1)

serutan (259622) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546313)

To some people it's blindingly obvious that they're geniuses surrounded by idiots. Obviousness is never an argument for anything. The basic issue in IP discussions always seems to boil down to whether IP rights are granted with society's consent, or are inherent properties of being human. "Because it's mine" is not an argument.

Re:Remember kids (2, Insightful)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547263)

The basic issue in IP discussions always seems to boil down to whether IP rights are granted with society's consent, or are inherent properties of being human.

What bothers me is that we continue to have this debate in the United States, when the U.S. Constitution is crystal clear on the subject. Where we keep getting tripped up is on the "limited times" part - it's ridiculous that it's been construed to mean "a period of time far in excess of the average person's lifetime".

Golden Rice (3, Interesting)

dstates (629350) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546141)

IP fragmentation is also a huge problem in biotechnology. Golden Rice [wikipedia.org] is a classic story of the anticommons.

Re:Golden Rice (1)

serutan (259622) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546257)

Anticommons didn't seem to be the blocking factor for Golden Rice, according to the Wikipedia article you cited. It says the companies involved readily granted humanitarian use licenses. It mentions that Greenpeace and other organizations opposed Golden Rice, but that doesn't explain why it's still not available for human consumption 7 years after development. They seem to have acquired all the IP rights and they had excellent publicity. Any idea what actually went wrong?

Re:Golden Rice (3, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546929)

The reason golden rice fails is simple - it does not deliver a high enough amount of vitamin A. It takes 300 gm of golden rice to deliver the dietary requirement of vitamin A to a child. Most target children eat less than one half that amount of rice. Then there is the question of bioavailability. For it to be useful their needs to be a certain level of body fat present, something that is often lacking in the target population.

Ultimately there are a lot of OTHER micronutrients missing too. Golden rice doesn't do anything for these. Poverty and overpopulation are the real issues. GE rice isn't going to fix these.

shouldn't that be "dog in a manger"? (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546191)

This trait has been known about for thousands of years and was given a name long before the "tragedy of the commons" analysis was made.

How about keeping the well-known description, instead of inventing new ones?

Re:shouldn't that be "dog in a manger"? (1)

pohl (872) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547273)

In my 41 years on this planet, I had never heard "dog in a manger". In contrast, I've heard "tragedy of the commons" frequently. I admit that I'm just one data point, but it could be that the fable is too obscure to be useful.

Actually, afterreading about it [wikipedia.org] , it appears that the fable misses the mark slightly, since the moral of the story hinges on the fact that the dog cannot eat the hay. In contrast, those who hoard IP frequently benefit from doing so.

Brilliance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24546261)

Brilliant point. 'Tragedy of the commons' has too long been standard munition in the pro-copyright arsenal. This should counter it nicely.

Information is usually worthless... (1)

Tikkun (992269) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546305)

... because once you have created it, the supply of it is essentially unlimited.

In short, it makes no sense to pay someone for work they've already done when you can pay them for something you want them to do.

For example it would be silly to try to sell 2 + 2 = 4 because there is no real constraint in getting this from something else (your head, google, a calculator, etc.). It would not be silly to sell someone a device (such as a computer) that can compute this, as the supply of computers is not unlimited.

If the result of 2 + 2 were not known, it would sense to pay someone to find out what it equals as time (for humans) is a very limited resource. Once they've done that they can start to work on other mathematical topics and you (or anyone else) can profit from their gain.

Why would you do this instead of waiting for it to "Just Happen"? Well, say you're building something real, like a bridge, and you need to know what 2 + 2 equals in order to construct a part used to make it. Given that you've been contracted to build it, the customer has time constraints, and you have a deadline. In this case paying a mathematician (or a kid with a calculator) is required to sell your actual product (a bridge). People don't pay for the parts that make up a bridge, they pay for something you can walk (or drive) across. Just because you made it easier for future generations (or other bridge contractors) doesn't mean that you can't charge the first customer what it took to figure out how to do it.

Similarly, if you run a hospital and have lots of patients with lung cancer, it makes sense to work with other hospitals to contract researchers to find new medicines and techniques to treat it. You don't need IP to create supply (a limited amount of success in surviving cancer) and demand (people with cancer). People aren't buying pills in this case, they're buying survival. Once you've cured lung cancer you can move on and work towards curing things like bad breath or belief in invisible things like IP.

Re:Information is usually worthless... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24547351)

if you run a hospital and have lots of patients with lung cancer

I agree with the entirety of your post, but did want to mention one thing: theoretically, you're doing it wrong. Try "if you run an insurance company and have lots of patients with lung cancer", and suddenly everything that has gone wrong with the healthcare industry in the US comes into sharp focus: healthcare costs are high because the insurance companies who pay for it have done jack shit about it but send me letters reminding me to "eat healthy to keep the cost of healthcare down" and whine to the government about how healthcare is so expensive but they better not even think about switching to socialized healthcare (a rant for an entirely different day).

Want to make insured capitalist healthcare work? Show me the capitalization: how many insurance companies have invested in the means to produce inexpensive treatments or cures for their members? Just think, on top of reducing the cost of providing healthcare, it'd even eliminate the conspiracy theory that cures for everything exist, but drug companies make more money selling treatments for the rest of your life.

The obvious answer... (3, Interesting)

The Man (684) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546389)

is to require that any patent or copyright holder be actively developing and/or selling related products. In other words, the economy must be able to obtain the "benefits" of the "innovation" in order to justify the government grant of monopoly. Remember that these "rights" are actually privileges granted by the government on behalf of the people for their greater benefit. Limitation or revocation of these privileges is not confiscation and should not be viewed in the same way as a taking of land or other tangible property; it is appropriate in cases in which the public interest is clearly not being served by their continuation.

For copyright, this approach is fairly easy because the work subject to protection already exists; if a work subject to copyright protection has not been newly licensed by or performed for an end user (i.e., not a reseller) in the past 3 years on terms generally available to other end users, that copyright expires. This definition prevents the holder from offering a work for sale at an absurd price, transferring it among subsidiaries, or giving away one copy a year to a "lucky winner" to avoid losing protection. Perpetually out-of-print books, obsolete software, and music owned by defunct record companies would all be freed from copyright protection.

Patents are harder because the patent may exist before commercially viable products do. One possible first-order approximation might be that patents may not be owned by holding companies; only individuals and operating companies may possess them. This requirement would make it difficult for patent trolls to execute their business model. Another strategy might be to require holders to notify the patent office when they first manufacture a product they believe is subject to protection under a specific patent; the patent office could then allow double-blind challenges (to protect trade secrets associated with ongoing R&D) to patents that are not apparently in use and are at least 3 years old. An inspector would then attempt to obtain evidence from the holder that product development is actively occurring; if it is not, the patent is invalidated. There are plenty of pitfalls here; I challenge everyone to try writing a definition that actually solves the problem. The principle is sound, but it's harder than it looks.

Re:The obvious answer... (4, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546677)

There is a saying - for any problem there is a quick, easy and obvious answer that is wrong. You have clearly found that answer here.

There are MANY companies that conduct research only that have no interest whatsoever in being in the business of making any thing. Most of the research conducted in biotechnology is performed in such companies. And the individual inventor? You have just wiped him out completely. There is NOTHING wrong with a company or individual focusing on inventing things, and then using the licensing of those inventions to support itself.

And of course what of universities? Your idea makes it very difficult for any university to obtain a patent.

And copyrights? To begin with the TFA is making a serious error incorporating copyrights into this discussion. It shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what a copyright is, so much so as to completely discredit the author. With your application of copyright law you have wiped out freelance photographers, artists, individuals writing books with hopes of being discovered, and millions of other individual content creators.

Copyrights owned by defunct companies are something of an inconvenience, but it is not a really large one thanks to the existence of fair use, right of first sale, libraries, etc.

Correct.. (1)

Sophia Ricci (1337419) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546563)

Therefore we should adopt new system. The patent office should be shifted to somewhere in desert, and the application forms should be kept close to peak of K2.

The applicant, after filling 469 pages application, should appear personally in front of patent officer. Patent officer should be sitting in the bunker, to be only opened by a unique key combination which applicant is supposed to search based on clues in that entire fort in the desert. The fort should be made full of snakes, wild animals and hidden guns, which triggers by tiles in random positions.

Applicant once got the key combination, should be allowed to go through number of dark tunnels, one of which correctly leads to the patent officer.

What nonsense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24546699)

The only "costs" of IP law are: (1) Free software can't copy proprietary software as much as FOSS developers would like to (that is, recreate entire proprietary systems down to their every last detail), and (2) you will need to pay for software, games, and music.

Seriously, cry me a river.

Re:What nonsense. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24547333)

That was quite the condescending and worthless analysis that totally misses great swaths of the societal costs of IP law.

Copyright doesn't prevent innovation... (1)

CartoonFan (1285946) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546717)

It only prevents legal innovation by someone other than the rights holder or a licensee.

Re:Copyright doesn't prevent innovation... (1)

Peaker (72084) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546883)

Right. It doesn't prevent ALL innovation. Only most of it.

Re:Copyright doesn't prevent innovation... (1)

CartoonFan (1285946) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547555)

Exactly.

This is one of the reasons... (0, Redundant)

Newer Guy (520108) | more than 6 years ago | (#24546743)

This is one of the major reasons the USA is fast becoming a third world country technology wise. Another reason is the piss poor education system we have here in the USA.

Problem is, fighting wars is more important to the Govt. then educating and keeping its citizens healthy.

Our govenrmennt is corrupt to its core and needs to be replaced.

Mined field (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547067)

is a better analogy. You know that there are places where you step on and go boom (or get a big lawsuit after finishing and doing something successful, whichever is worse), and there is places where knowing that takes far more work than actually doing something. You not only are forbidding (or putting serious barriers at least) the use of certain resources, you are forbidding the use of most, having an owner or not.

dkloke (2, Interesting)

dkloke (994517) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547087)

Have to laugh because I was just thinking about this stuff this morning.. I've been ripped off a lot. Sometimes I've later met the folks that ripped me off, and when they realize who I am they get kinda quiet. But it's ok, because I'm still vastly more inventive then they are. Ideas are just building blocks, you make one, then you stand on it and make another that goes on top, etc. In that sense, when I get ripped off and somebody takes the idea to market, they just built a platform for me to continue to build on, training customers and creating workflows that I can easily leverage on to the next thing. Sure, that doesn't work that way every time.. but it works often enough. Now, if I wanted to own the planet, it would annoy me. But I don't, and the people that do can't seem to figure out how to do it anyway, so it's all good.

Nothing wrong with underutilization (1)

Jewbird (596227) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547117)

Sure it's "economically-inefficient," but the fewer customers who appreciate something enough to pay for it will then have something unique to distinguish themselves, culturally, as opposed to a monoculture of dancing baby videos of such bullshit variety as will not displace Disney now or ever.

When things are available at zero or very low cost, it reduces their cultural value. Enough Chinese have seen Star Wars to appreciate the unparalleled superiority of American culture and how their own "culture" is simply garbage in comparison. What have they written in the past 2000 years even worth translating into English, let alone learning Chinese for?! A backwards and degenerate race of monkeys, to be sure. Chinese talking about culture really is worth entsichering meinen Browning over.

It is therefore incumbent on civilized societies to learn the lesson of the abysmal cultural failure of Chinese and ensure that thought leadership is economically valued - not just highest quality at lowest price of given X, which must be pre-identified as a social good by the bureaucracy. In the latter case, you necessarily wind up with crap for culture, because there is no reward for its creation.

The problem of the commons therefore still applies to cultural and intellectual artifacts. The problems of excludability created by IP protection can be solved by creating more efficient markets for it and organizations disparagingly referred to as "patent trolls" are one way to do just that.

To suggest that the market for anything in the realm of thought can be improved by ensuring that they're low-cost or free is to suggest that the problem of hunger can be solved by making bread low-cost or free.

People are finally recognising the rot (3, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547285)

Western society has to make something to be economically solvent. We can't build our economies by making everyone a sodding barista.

If you go for manufacturing, then you create a population of poor people and shatter the illusion of prosperous capitalist society. If you, as most western countries have done, outsource the dirtiest jobs to other countries you can provide the illusion of prosperity for all, you must rely on more high tech industries that tend to require IP, and you kill innovation in the name of having a nice middle class buffer between the billionaires and the sweatshop workers.

All I know is... (4, Interesting)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547561)

...I can't get seasons 1 and 2 of Reboot because the current copyright owners (Universal) are just sitting on it.

Limit max profit share! (1, Interesting)

ypctx (1324269) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547571)

Maybe a law should be introduced, which makes it impossible for patent holders to charge more for the use of their patents, than a fair share of the profit of the project the patent is utilized in.

It may seem difficult to fairly determine the significance of various patents used for a project, but hey, if one can value a real estate property, one can learn how to do it for patents.

Or just limit the patent enforceability to one year, so the inventors will need to hurry up and actually deliver products to the market. Hell, that's even better.
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