Copyright law and technical advancement

August 24th, 2010

In a funny coincidence, two separate articles evaluating the effect of copyright law came through my reading stream this week:

The first is the Ars Technica discussion of the theory that weak copyright laws in the 1700s and 1800s helped Germany catch up technologically.

The second is a book review in this week’s New York Times. The book review is written by Lewis Hyde and called “A Republic of Letters” and the book is “Common as Air: Revolution, Art and Ownership.” Apparently Thomas Jefferson wondered whether copyright should exist at all when writing the US Constitution, but was persuaded by Madison that a very limited law would be the best balance.

Of course, there’s nothing new about the topic of how much intellectual property protection encourages creativity and innovation, and when IP protection backfires and stifles intellectual development. Even so, it’s a relief to see new works articulate the importance of evaluating our intellectual property laws in light of the things they are preventing, not just how much protection they can give. Now it’s time to read the actual book instead of the review πŸ™‚

4 comments for “Copyright law and technical advancement”

  1. 1

    Christopher Blizzard said on August 24th, 2010 at 8:49 pm:

    Also worth looking at were the effects of the early Wright Brothers patents on airplanes and how it hampered the ability of the US to deploy a working aircraft during World War I.

  2. 2

    Gloria Meneses said on August 24th, 2010 at 9:24 pm:

    After to read this articles and your post, I just have a question: If Germany based its progress on non copyright laws … why is too hard to implement this model in underdevelopment countries? I have not an answer for this question, in fact I still thinking about it. Anyway, it were very interesting articles πŸ˜€

  3. 3

    Mitchell Baker said on August 29th, 2010 at 9:05 pm:

    Gloria. I wonder if this is related to increasing internationalization? England may have had far less influence over Germany’s intellectual property laws then the united trading world has over any particular country’s laws today. That’s one reason I’m starting to change my ideas about getting involved with US or European policy making. For years I resisted, concerned that it would push mozilla to be more rather than less us-centric. But now I’m feeling more that what the US or Europe does has a big influence elsewhere. Net Neutrality is one such issue. Although of course so complicated with so many people involved full time that it’s hard to have a voice without being total immersed in it . . . .

  4. 4

    IT-infotech said on October 9th, 2010 at 5:40 am:

    “Now it’s time to read the actual book instead of the review.” This is good to make your heart little lighter, but of course this is damn serious issue. Technology has it’s own speed which is growing/replicating as fast as the lightning speed. Does that demanding new sets of rules?

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