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Re: OT -New paper on Patents

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  • k_r_johansen
    ... The question is, and I don t mean to be flippant, isn t the big problem the advent of the internet, which is already here, and not the hypothetical threat
    Message 1 of 21 , Feb 7, 2013
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      --- In LandCafe@yahoogroups.com, Robin Harding wrote:
      >
      > As someone who dislikes the abuse of extended copyright, but works in an
      > industry (newspapers) that has been devastated by the advent of the
      > internet, I have mixed feelings about this. It is true that there are other
      > ways to make money off cultural products, but certainly in my field they
      > are only open to a few stars, while everyone else suffers a race to the
      > bottom.
      >

      The question is, and I don't mean to be flippant, isn't the big problem the advent of the internet, which is already here, and not the hypothetical threat of abolishing IP-rights?

      And the race to the bottom, well, that's from the producer's perspective. Trade-unions calls international labour-competition a race to the bottom. That's ignoring that internationally, wages tend to get pushed up for the new entrants. As for final product quality, big changes do change product quality, but that may very well be what the market wants, even if it doesn't seem like it from the status quo perspective. The information flow after the advent of the internet is a multiple of what it was when newspapers were the only channel of information, of every quality possible.

      Kj
    • Robin Harding
      I absolutely agree that it s the advent of the internet that has beaten up the newspaper business and printed news is going the way of the buggy whip. What
      Message 2 of 21 , Feb 7, 2013
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        I absolutely agree that it's the advent of the internet that has beaten up the newspaper business and printed news is going the way of the buggy whip. What made newspapers profitable was the distribution monopoly - the product was obsolete before anybody could copy it - but good riddance from society's point of view.

        Any future prospects for commercial news, whether paid for by subscriptions or advertising, now rest on copyright. If there's no copyright at all then anything published online can be instantly scraped and republished so there's no way to charge for it. In economic terms, it would make news non-excludable as well as non-rival in consumption - in other words, a pure public good.

        The only ways to fund a pure public good are taxation (regardless of how you structure the payments) or charity. It's further possible that a few high profile journalists might be able to justify writing as promotion for other activities, such as speaking. I personally find this prospect unattractive: if you consider news biased now, just imagine what it'd be like if it can only be funded at the whim of generous billionaires, interested parties or the politicians currently in power. The situation for other forms of media would be similar.

        Many of the philosophers who first identified the harm of economic rents (Smith, Bentham, Mill) also recognised a utilitarian and/or moral case for some degree of intellectual property. I don't think that has changed. What has changed is that the system has become vastly skewed in favour of a few rich rights holders which undermines its social utility. But I'd rather see that system reformed than abolished.

        There are arguments otherwise, but people making them need to set out a clear solution to the public goods problem they propose to create, so we can judge whether that is preferable to a minimal system of IP. 


        On 7 February 2013 04:33, k_r_johansen <kjetil.r.johansen@...> wrote:
         



        --- In LandCafe@yahoogroups.com, Robin Harding wrote:
        >
        > As someone who dislikes the abuse of extended copyright, but works in an
        > industry (newspapers) that has been devastated by the advent of the
        > internet, I have mixed feelings about this. It is true that there are other

        > ways to make money off cultural products, but certainly in my field they
        > are only open to a few stars, while everyone else suffers a race to the
        > bottom.
        >

        The question is, and I don't mean to be flippant, isn't the big problem the advent of the internet, which is already here, and not the hypothetical threat of abolishing IP-rights?

        And the race to the bottom, well, that's from the producer's perspective. Trade-unions calls international labour-competition a race to the bottom. That's ignoring that internationally, wages tend to get pushed up for the new entrants. As for final product quality, big changes do change product quality, but that may very well be what the market wants, even if it doesn't seem like it from the status quo perspective. The information flow after the advent of the internet is a multiple of what it was when newspapers were the only channel of information, of every quality possible.

        Kj


      • roy_langston
        ... The Nobel Prizes, for one, and the MacArthur Fellowships for another. The UK gives knighthoods to a few researchers. It would be a trivial exercise to
        Message 3 of 21 , Feb 7, 2013
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          --- In LandCafe@yahoogroups.com, "k_r_johansen" wrote:

          > As to research, and how awards can be structured, incentives and all that, I'm not quite sure what successfull models there is, maybe you can name some examples?

          The Nobel Prizes, for one, and the MacArthur Fellowships for another. The UK gives knighthoods to a few researchers. It would be a trivial exercise to create a computerized system to identify useful technologies and award substantial prizes to those who had developed them based on the record of publication, as is now done with scholarly priority. There would be no time limit, either, so if a technology only became useful decades after it was released to the public domain, the inventor could still be rewarded commensurately.

          But post-hoc prizes are not the only way to support intellectual work. For a cost of $50K, the Kremer Prize for human-powered heavier-than-air flight mobilized many millions of dollars worth of research and development, and solved in 20 years a problem that people had tried to solve for at least 500 years. Lots of companies would be willing to put up prize money for solutions to specific technology problems, especially if it got them some sort of tax deduction, first access to submissions, etc.

          -- Roy Langston
        • roy_langston
          ... The advertising model does not rest on copyright. Consider product placement in movies and TV shows. It should be obvious that the primary source of
          Message 4 of 21 , Feb 7, 2013
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            --- In LandCafe@yahoogroups.com, Robin Harding wrote:

            > Any future prospects for commercial news, whether paid for by subscriptions or advertising, now rest on copyright.

            The advertising model does not rest on copyright. Consider product placement in movies and TV shows. It should be obvious that the primary source of funding for commercial sites on the Net -- advertising revenue -- does not depend on copyright.

            > If there's no copyright at all then
            > anything published online can be instantly scraped and republished so there's no way to charge for it.

            Yet publishers seem to find a way to charge for books that are in the public domain, like the Bible. Information might be inherently free, but packaging, customer participation, employees' attention, etc. can be charged for, as the online gaming industry proves. For example, it would be a trivial matter to create a subscription-funded news site that allowed its paid subscribers to discuss the news with paid journalists in real time, and ONLY paid subscribers.

            Wait a minute...

            I CLAIM THAT IDEA AS MY PROPERTY!!

            > In economic terms, it would make news
            > non-excludable as well as non-rival in consumption - in other words, a pure public good.

            See above. There are ways to fund production of what would seem to be pure public goods by packaging them with excludable and/or rival private goods.

            > The only ways to fund a pure public good are taxation (regardless of how you structure the payments) or charity.

            I don't see anything wrong with either of them. We pay a great deal of tax money to safeguard our rights through the military. It would seem justified to spend a microscopic fraction of that amount on safeguarding our rights by keeping the voting public informed. You'd just need to make the public funding of news reporting independent of political control. That could be achieved by paying publicly employed journalists strictly according to their popularity, as measured by downloads from unique addresses, periodic surveys of readers, etc. There are technological fixes for such problems.

            As for charity, an enormous amount of charitable journalism is currently undertaken by amateurs on the Net, and that is not going to change. The openness of the Net has actually led to substantial quality gains, as bad information is quickly exposed as such.

            > It's further possible that a few high profile journalists might be able to justify writing as promotion for other activities, such as speaking.

            In many fields, especially business reporting, private consulting would also be highly lucrative.

            > I personally find this prospect
            > unattractive: if you consider news biased now, just imagine what it'd be
            > like if it can only be funded at the whim of generous billionaires,
            > interested parties or the politicians currently in power.

            It's not true that charity only funds the whims of generous billionaries or interested parties, and public spending only funds the whims of politicians currently in power. There are mechanisms to ensure transparency, public oversight, accountability, etc. in public spending, and I suggest you are underestimating the extent to which the IP rent seeking model of journalism itself _already_ biases the news. The vast and growing movement for information freedom is dismissed and lied about, when it is not pointedly ignored.

            > The situation for other forms of media would be similar.

            We need to find a willingness to trust freedom and liberty to find solutions, even if they might not look much like the solutions we are used to.

            > Many of the philosophers who first identified the harm of economic rents
            > (Smith, Bentham, Mill) also recognised a utilitarian and/or moral case for some degree of intellectual property.

            It's called, "privacy." If you want your information to be your private property, don't let it out into the public domain. Simple.

            The original impetus for patent law was not that there was insufficient incentive to innovate, but that innovations were often kept secret to maintain their scarcity value, and thus consequently lost. Systems of priority recognition, cash prizes, etc. would ensure that secrecy (to the extent that it is even possible these days) would not be a significant barrier to dissemination of newly gained knowledge.

            > What has changed is that the system has become vastly skewed in favour of a few
            > rich rights holders which undermines its social utility. But I'd rather see that system reformed than abolished.

            It can't be justified, either morally or economically.

            > There are arguments otherwise, but people making them need to set out a
            > clear solution to the public goods problem they propose to create,

            The public goods problem is inherent in the nature of information, not something advocates of liberty and justice could create.

            > so we
            > can judge whether that is preferable to a minimal system of IP.

            See above. Why not just trust people to find consensual solutions to the problem of how to fund public goods?

            -- Roy Langston
          • Robin Harding
            Hmmm. Well, I ll look forward to the future where I: (a) Write brought to you by the good folks at Goldman Sachs! into every story to earn advertising
            Message 5 of 21 , Feb 7, 2013
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              Hmmm. Well, I'll look forward to the future where I: (a) Write 'brought to you by the good folks at Goldman Sachs!' into every story to earn advertising revenue; (b) Write solely about a cute kittens caught up trees in order to win the public vote for tax revenues; or (c) Selectively disclose any information I learn to the highest bidder. It sounds delightful. Alternatively, it might be worth considering that some social institutions have evolved to answer genuine problems, and seek to reform rather than overturn them.

              On 7 February 2013 15:51, roy_langston <roy_langston@...> wrote:
               

              --- In LandCafe@yahoogroups.com, Robin Harding wrote:

              > Any future prospects for commercial news, whether paid for by subscriptions or advertising, now rest on copyright.

              The advertising model does not rest on copyright. Consider product placement in movies and TV shows. It should be obvious that the primary source of funding for commercial sites on the Net -- advertising revenue -- does not depend on copyright.

              > If there's no copyright at all then
              > anything published online can be instantly scraped and republished so there's no way to charge for it.

              Yet publishers seem to find a way to charge for books that are in the public domain, like the Bible. Information might be inherently free, but packaging, customer participation, employees' attention, etc. can be charged for, as the online gaming industry proves. For example, it would be a trivial matter to create a subscription-funded news site that allowed its paid subscribers to discuss the news with paid journalists in real time, and ONLY paid subscribers.

              Wait a minute...

              I CLAIM THAT IDEA AS MY PROPERTY!!


              > In economic terms, it would make news
              > non-excludable as well as non-rival in consumption - in other words, a pure public good.

              See above. There are ways to fund production of what would seem to be pure public goods by packaging them with excludable and/or rival private goods.


              > The only ways to fund a pure public good are taxation (regardless of how you structure the payments) or charity.

              I don't see anything wrong with either of them. We pay a great deal of tax money to safeguard our rights through the military. It would seem justified to spend a microscopic fraction of that amount on safeguarding our rights by keeping the voting public informed. You'd just need to make the public funding of news reporting independent of political control. That could be achieved by paying publicly employed journalists strictly according to their popularity, as measured by downloads from unique addresses, periodic surveys of readers, etc. There are technological fixes for such problems.

              As for charity, an enormous amount of charitable journalism is currently undertaken by amateurs on the Net, and that is not going to change. The openness of the Net has actually led to substantial quality gains, as bad information is quickly exposed as such.


              > It's further possible that a few high profile journalists might be able to justify writing as promotion for other activities, such as speaking.

              In many fields, especially business reporting, private consulting would also be highly lucrative.


              > I personally find this prospect
              > unattractive: if you consider news biased now, just imagine what it'd be
              > like if it can only be funded at the whim of generous billionaires,
              > interested parties or the politicians currently in power.

              It's not true that charity only funds the whims of generous billionaries or interested parties, and public spending only funds the whims of politicians currently in power. There are mechanisms to ensure transparency, public oversight, accountability, etc. in public spending, and I suggest you are underestimating the extent to which the IP rent seeking model of journalism itself _already_ biases the news. The vast and growing movement for information freedom is dismissed and lied about, when it is not pointedly ignored.


              > The situation for other forms of media would be similar.

              We need to find a willingness to trust freedom and liberty to find solutions, even if they might not look much like the solutions we are used to.


              > Many of the philosophers who first identified the harm of economic rents
              > (Smith, Bentham, Mill) also recognised a utilitarian and/or moral case for some degree of intellectual property.

              It's called, "privacy." If you want your information to be your private property, don't let it out into the public domain. Simple.

              The original impetus for patent law was not that there was insufficient incentive to innovate, but that innovations were often kept secret to maintain their scarcity value, and thus consequently lost. Systems of priority recognition, cash prizes, etc. would ensure that secrecy (to the extent that it is even possible these days) would not be a significant barrier to dissemination of newly gained knowledge.


              > What has changed is that the system has become vastly skewed in favour of a few
              > rich rights holders which undermines its social utility. But I'd rather see that system reformed than abolished.

              It can't be justified, either morally or economically.


              > There are arguments otherwise, but people making them need to set out a
              > clear solution to the public goods problem they propose to create,

              The public goods problem is inherent in the nature of information, not something advocates of liberty and justice could create.


              > so we
              > can judge whether that is preferable to a minimal system of IP.

              See above. Why not just trust people to find consensual solutions to the problem of how to fund public goods?

              -- Roy Langston


            • Jock Coats
              ... Sorry I ve come into this a bit late. I ll try and find the rest of the thread in a minute, but I can comment here. Basically prizes or patents have
              Message 6 of 21 , Feb 7, 2013
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                On 7 Feb 2013, at 19:59, "roy_langston" <roy_langston@...> wrote:

                > --- In LandCafe@yahoogroups.com, "k_r_johansen" wrote:
                >
                > > As to research, and how awards can be structured, incentives and all that, I'm not quite sure what successfull models there is, maybe you can name some examples?
                >
                > The Nobel Prizes, for one, and the MacArthur Fellowships for another. The UK gives knighthoods to a few researchers. It would be a trivial exercise to create a computerized system to identify useful technologies and award substantial prizes to those who had developed them based on the record of publication, as is now done with scholarly priority. There would be no time limit, either, so if a technology only became useful decades after it was released to the public domain, the inventor could still be rewarded commensurately.
                >
                > But post-hoc prizes are not the only way to support intellectual work. For a cost of $50K, the Kremer Prize for human-powered heavier-than-air flight mobilized many millions of dollars worth of research and development, and solved in 20 years a problem that people had tried to solve for at least 500 years. Lots of companies would be willing to put up prize money for solutions to specific technology problems, especially if it got them some sort of tax deduction, first access to submissions, etc.

                Sorry I've come into this a bit late. I'll try and find the rest of the thread in a minute, but I can comment here. Basically "prizes" or "patents" have long been the two opposing ways of rewarding invention and openness. Here in the UK the 1660 Royal Society started with a membership obligation to share inventions.

                And its 1754 offspring the Royal Society For the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, or the RSA for short (member one Mr B Franklin, as well as Adam Smith and Karl Marx - I wonder if there's any other organisation in the world can boast both of those two as members!) was itself started as a scheme to raise money to promote invention by the award of "premiums", or prizes effectively, on a theme set by the society from time to time trying to guess in what areas the economy would need new technologies.

                Jock
                --
                Jock Coats
                Warden's Flat 1e, J Block Morrell Hall, OXFORD, OX3 0FF
                m: 07769 695767 skype:jock.coats?call
                jock.coats@... http://jockcoats.me
              • roy_langston
                ... Product placement is pretty unobtrusive these days, compared to what it was like in the beginning, and advertising is getting smarter. The future will see
                Message 7 of 21 , Feb 7, 2013
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                  --- In LandCafe@yahoogroups.com, Robin Harding wrote:

                  > Hmmm. Well, I'll look forward to the future where I: (a) Write 'brought to you by the good folks at Goldman Sachs!' into every story to earn advertising revenue;

                  Product placement is pretty unobtrusive these days, compared to what it was like in the beginning, and advertising is getting smarter. The future will see almost imperceptible ads very precisely targeted to people who are likely to be interested in that product or service. Ads will consequently become more like editorial content. You must surely be aware that much of what passes for editorial content nowadays, under the intellectual property model, is in fact _already_ advertising, or at least PR.

                  > (b) Write solely about a cute kittens caught up trees
                  > in order to win the public vote for tax revenues;

                  If that's where your talents and interests lie, go for it. I doubt that it is fruitful to try to second-guess what the public considers worthwhile journalism -- and it's not like the current IP monopoly privilege model spares us any coverage of kittens up trees. At least under a voting model, coverage of substantive issues would respond to the public's priorities, and not solely to the narrow financial interests of advertisers and publishers. I think you might be surprised to see MORE coverage of substantive issues when those issues are not actively being suppressed to serve the interests of advertisers and publishers.

                  > or (c) Selectively
                  > disclose any information I learn to the highest bidder.

                  Journalists deal in information. Some information that is not of interest to the reading, viewing or listening public might be of great interest to a private party. Why not sell it to them?

                  > Alternatively, it might be worth considering that some social
                  > institutions have evolved to answer genuine problems, and seek to reform rather than overturn them.

                  The institution of private landowning evolved to answer a genuine problem, too. So did the institution of slavery. The fact that people get accustomed to unjust institutions that evolved to answer genuine problems, and can't imagine how the world could function without them, does not constitute an argument for their preservation:

                  "When the emancipation of the African was spoken of, and when the nation of Britain appeared to be taking into serious consideration the rightfulness of abolishing slavery, what tremendous evils were to follow! Trade was to be ruined, commerce was almost to cease, and manufacturers were to be bankrupt. Worse than all, private property was to be invaded (property in human flesh), the rights of planters sacrificed to the speculative notions of fanatics, and the British government was to commit an act that would forever deprive it of the confidence of British subjects." – Patrick Edward Dove, The Theory of Human Progression, 1850

                  -- Roy Langston
                • k_r_johansen
                  ... If in doubt, apply vouchers. I have proposed reforming our governments existing media-subsidies in a relatively simple way. Divide the budget up into a
                  Message 8 of 21 , Feb 8, 2013
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                    --- In LandCafe@yahoogroups.com, "roy_langston" wrote:
                    >

                    > I don't see anything wrong with either of them. We pay a great deal of tax money to safeguard our rights through the military. It would seem justified to spend a microscopic fraction of that amount on safeguarding our rights by keeping the voting public informed. You'd just need to make the public funding of news reporting independent of political control. That could be achieved by paying publicly employed journalists strictly according to their popularity, as measured by downloads from unique addresses, periodic surveys of readers, etc. There are technological fixes for such problems.
                    >

                    If in doubt, apply vouchers. I have proposed reforming our governments existing media-subsidies in a relatively simple way. Divide the budget up into a per-capita amount (one should do this with all spending items, if anything as just an exercise), and allow every voter to direct their funding to one/several qualifying institutions (has editorial content, no paywall-websites) of their choice. The undecided ones will be distributed according to the distribution of preferences of those who vote.

                    Kj
                  • roy_langston
                    ... Ah, another good solution. Even the people who actually spend their own time looking at kittens up trees will typically _vote_ for hard-hitting political
                    Message 9 of 21 , Feb 8, 2013
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                      --- In LandCafe@yahoogroups.com, "k_r_johansen" wrote:

                      > If in doubt, apply vouchers. I have proposed reforming our governments existing media-subsidies in a relatively simple way. Divide the budget up into a per-capita amount (one should do this with all spending items, if anything as just an exercise), and allow every voter to direct their funding to one/several qualifying institutions (has editorial content, no paywall-websites) of their choice. The undecided ones will be distributed according to the distribution of preferences of those who vote.

                      Ah, another good solution. Even the people who actually spend their own time looking at kittens up trees will typically _vote_ for hard-hitting political journalism over kitten-up-tree stories -- a case of "Do as I say, not as I do." I can offer a personal mea culpa: I have OFTEN caught myself looking at celebrity gossip web pages that made me think, "Why would anyone put such stupid, shallow junk on the Net? Don't people have anything better to do than look at this crap?" Well, yeah, I _do_ have better things to do... but that didn't stop me from reading the latest on Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber (am I the only one who thinks he looks like a 10-year-old girl?).

                      -- Roy Langston
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