pensées aléatoires

Wednesday 26 November 2008

Intellectual property

Filed under: politics — skolem @ 5:59 am
Tags: , , , ,

it’s 4:46 in the morning and i can’t sleep… So i decided i could as well write a post i was postponing since at least mid October…

fuzzy copyright

Originally uploaded by PugnoM

The ones of you with which i regularly discuss politics – sometimes i feel there aren’t enough of those – knows that it’s a theme that interest me for a long time. Usually when i talk about it everybody suppose i want to talk about p2p, music and related problem. Actually i believe more and more that this is only a tiny little problem in a much bigger picture.

Traditionally intellectual property only applies to so called non-rival goods that is, goods that can be used/enjoyed by multiple people simultaneously. Intellectual property is then divided in different sections that don’t have much in common:

  • copyright, which affects intellectual work such as books, movies, music, pictures, art in general, but also software;
  • patent, which covers machine, goods ( composition of matter, article of manufacture), production processes;
  • trademark: logos, names;
  • industrial design and
  • trade secret.

Buy Some Intellectual Property

Originally uploaded by Majiscup – Drink for Design

I want to talk mostly about the two first. While not entirely similar there is an important difference that is easily noticeable: in the U.S. and Europe, the duration of a patent is typically of 10 to 20 years. As for copyright, in th U.S. it’s 70 years after the death of the author or if the work was a work for hire 120 year after creation or 95 years after publication, whichever is shorter, according to wikipedia. In Europe it is uniformely 70 years after death of the author, also according to wikipedia. Related to all of this is the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works which sets the minimal duration of copyright to be 50 years after the death of the author. Nobody can fail to see the humongus gap between the duration of copyright and patents…

I have no strong opinion with respect to patent, but for one thing: looking at this article from Techcrunch, where a company’s business model is to get money for not suing other companies for patent infrigement, seems totally wrong. And yes it looks llike it’s not only legal but also profitable… There seem to be a huge business around paterns that neither promote creativity nor is usefull to the general public in any way shape or form. It would be interesting to find ways to cut this business down as it costs real companies a lot, a price that is in the end taken care of by the customers.

As i am trying to shorten my posts, i will talk about copyright in a second voley of this (maybe longer) serie.

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