The Intellectual Property Revolution – Free Users vs. the Industry

The Pirate Bay lost the “spectrial” in Sweden. Some mourn, some rejoice. But one thing is certain: Their fight is not over. And the struggle against “intellectual property” laws never will. The fight between pirates and the industries dependant on IP recognition and enforcement, mainly the record, motion picture and software industries, pulls us into a dilemma. For on the one hand, we need to support the freedom of information. On the other hand, an entire branch of the modern economy, probably one of the most important in modern western economies, depends on just that being supressed.We need to see the two major streams of IP-dependant industries seperately for this. Music and Film are forms of art, works of culture, for which there have been several proposals in the past, some of which I find worthy of supporting: Some kind of “cultural flatrate”, for example, has been proposed, as an alternative compensation system that pays artists based on downloads, with the money coming from a fee on blank media, storage systems and/or internet connection. Another alternative proposed is a decommercialization of art, returning it to a state it was in back in the old times, funded by sponsors and donators with the desire to support the artist.

However, such approaches are limited to the field of art. My concern, however, is mainly the software industry, which produces knowledge, not art. Ironically, while this means it is most dependant on intellectual property, it is also hurt worst by it. The reason: patent abuse. The problem with patents is that even the most trivial ideas can be claimed as property. Just look at Apple patenting the heck out of multi-touch interfacing, rendering an awesome technology all but useless for free implementation. For those of you for whom this is too technical, in Australia someone patented a “circular transportation facilitation device”. Yes, that means wheel.

To be continued…

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