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Generation gap in view of intellectual property

athloi (1075845) writes | more than 6 years ago

Privacy 1

Technical Writing Geek writes "Finally, with mock exasperation, I said, "O.K., let's try one that's a little less complicated: You want a movie or an album. You don't want to pay for it. So you download it."

There it was: the bald-faced, worst-case example, without any nuance or mitigating factors whatsoever.

"Who thinks that might be wrong?"

Two hands out of 500."

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My own take on it, for those who are bored (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21829472)

The whole debate over digital rights management (DRM) has morphed into a titanic clash between opposites. On one hand are those who claim that defending intellectual property (IP) is essential for our society to work, and on the other side are those who claim IP is bunk and defend piracy as vigorously as they campaign against DRM.

Open source gets caught in the middle because while its basic premise, free software whose innards anyone can see, is sound, inevitably open source software also includes a certain amount of cloning of proprietary methods. Open source people often as if they're giving away IP, and think others should too. There's some truth in that.

Giving away IP enables people to build a next generation based on what you've done. If you come up with a killer application, like Photoshop, and develop it to maturity, and then someone clones it with an application like GIMPshop, you may be disappointed but no one can argue that you created a new market lead and now there's a need for something to leapfrog it. Of course, this only goes so far, since Photoshop is nearing the point where new features aren't occurring because new graphics technologies aren't.

But, if we make giving away IP mandatory, it could undermine some things we take for granted. For example, open source did not innovate office suites or photoshop-like applications. Would there have been the focus to do so? Similarly, there are few open source equivalents for the high-level development environments favored by programmers. It's possible the profits of these are needed to fuel a big enough entity to address all the details of their production.

Another way of saying this is to ask, If you were dorking around in the lab tonight, and you discovered a new algorithm or chemical formula that could save everyone time and stress, would you release it to the public for free? After all, this is your wealth and retirement we're talking about here. If you release it, you go back to work the next day and every day for the rest of your life. If you patent it... you could end up in a nice house on a nice street with a big bank account, and no job.

I view this as the hard question of IP. Is it true that once we go open source, we've rejected the profit model and should consider ourselves basically communist, or is there middle ground? I like to think of open source as a middle layer in a complex ecosystem in which IP plays a vital role.

Intellectual Property or Imaginary Property? []
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