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Techliberation.com tidbits

Straight from the feedreader, interesting bits of copyright related thinking on The Technology Liberation Front (quickly becoming one of my favorite blogs):

In My DRM Agnosticism & Indifference toward Media Format Compatibility, Adam Thierer explains how he thinks about the relationship between DRM and innovation:

Other times, however, incompatibility can breed competition and innovation. I still have not heard anyone here explain to me how we’d actually have more video game console competition if you could play all your games on just one console. I think the intentional incompatibility among gaming consoles has been a primary factor in keep the console platform market vibrantly competitive and kept everyone on their toes, constantly innovating to stay alive. […]

And Tim Lee’s reaction:

[…] [I]ncompatibility isn’t an unintended side-effect of DRM–it’s the whole point of the technology. There isn’t any offsetting benefit to the consumer.

I agree with you that we’re not in a doom-and-gloom scenario, although maybe I don’t emphasize that as strongly as I should. There’s still healthy progress going on in the consumer electronics industry, and I don’t think that will change any time soon. I just think this progress has occurred despite, not because of, the DMCA.

Broken Windows and Copyrights discusses reader X. Trapnel’s idea that the entire argument for patent and copyright is an example of Bastiat’s broken window parable:

[…] What is not seen is what would happen in the absence of [IP] protection: the innovator would have to keep innovating in order to maintain his market, leveraging his expertise into further productive developments, while newcomers would be able to experiment on their own with the knowledge produced by the first. Money that once went to monopoly rents would go instead to other, more productive things–including further innovation.

The neo-Schumpeterian retort is that this is hopelessly naive: innovation requires large capital investment and the reasonable hope of monopoly rents to recoup it. But this is mere question-begging, and its plausibility lies, again, with the distinction between What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen: when we give innovators monopoly privileges of this sort, we thereby tilt the playing field dramatically towards heavily capitalized firms by jacking up the costs of the inputs (eg., prior innovations, a skilled legal team, insurance against lawsuits) to production.

Good insights also in Why I Don’t Say “Intellectual Property” (and You Shouldn’t Either)

[…] Intellectual property is such an effective frame precisely because it sounds, at first impression, like an ideologically neutral term. If Boldrin and Levine want to counter that influence, they need to come up with a term that sounds equally neutral, but that frames the subject in a way that subtly undermines the concept in the long run. […]

I’ve commented on this post, but apparently, my submission hasn’t made it through the moderation process yet.

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