Friday, January 28, 2011

Information Feudalism

My esteemed senior colleague John Holbo: "What strong IP protection generates is not a free market but something more like information feudalism: a market-unfriendly clusterfuck of fiefdoms and inescapably inefficient lord-vassal terms-of-service arrangements that any friend of freedom, in any ordinary sense, ought to look upon with disgust."

To add to the metaphor, if copyright protections on something last the author's life plus 50 years, there'll be a hereditary copyright nobility who enjoy the vast riches won by their ancestors without having to produce anything useful themselves.


big bad wolf said...

true. the old 28 years, renewable for another 28, was more than enough. and yet i sympathize with disney, at least in the case of mickey mouse. why should he fall into the public domain even though he is still actively used by disney? it seems that perhaps we need a more supple and varied IP system, one that limits copyrights and takes a much harder look at patent applications, but that might expand trademark protection when a character like mickey becomes not a character but a symbol of any organization. the number should be limited, goodbye seven dwarfs, but i think it reasonable to afford some protection of major creations that morph into symbols of a creator's business.

Neil Sinhababu said...

It feels like it would be a mildly bad thing if Mickey went into the public domain, but I don't think the bad consequences are substantial enough that they should shape our approach to the general issue.