Yesterday we mentioned that various special interests have convinced some in Congress to hold off on patent reform. To some extent, this is fine, since there are plenty of problems with the patent reform being offered. However, the reasons for holding off aren't because of that -- but because some big patent holders are upset at the few good things in the bill. In the meantime, Ed Felten picks up on a key point. Howard Berman, the main sponsor of this bill, responded to the requests to hold off voting on it by saying there's no reason to since "all of the interested parties" have been heard from: "independent inventors, universities, bio-technology, pharmaceutical, software and financial services industries." Ed Felten asks "who's missing from that list?" Oh, right. The citizens the government is supposed to represent. This isn't specific to patent reform of course. Just about any legislation tends to call in folks from the various industries it will impact -- but rarely bothers to speak to the actual citizens they're supposed to be representing. Of course, it's not easy to "represent" the views of the citizenry, especially since the citizenry doesn't always know enough to know what's best overall. However, it certainly should be possible to bring in experts who can look at the impact not just on businesses, but on society as a whole.
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