by Mike Masnick
Tue, Mar 1st 2011 8:33pm
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jan 12th 2011 10:13am
from the ownership-society-at-work dept
However, last month, Oprah did finally go visit Australia, and Tourism Australia was (not surprisingly) heavily involved. However, Heuvel claims that since Tourism Australia had promised to work with him, it had now breached a contract. As for the idea that perhaps (just maybe) plenty of others at Tourism Australia might have had the idea of bringing perhaps the most recognizable entertainer in the world to the country to play up tourism in Australia? Why, that's impossible, according to Heuvel:
"Tourism Australia is saying that it thought up the idea, which is ludicrous."Ludicrous? Really? Tourism Australia admits that it worked with Heuvel in 2005, and that that bid to lure Oprah down under failed. End of story. This latest trip was entirely unrelated. However, it appears that Heuvel really thinks that the idea itself is his and his alone, and that Tourism Australia owes him "millions" for actually having Oprah visit the country, without paying him first.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Dec 21st 2010 3:14pm
from the oh-come-on dept
Given all that, we were amazed later that year when the twins sought to back out of the settlement, in what appears to be a clear case of "settlers' remorse." Joe Mullin has the latest on the twins' attempt to go through this whole thing all over again, and notes how ridiculous the whole situation is:
What makes CU's drawn-out litigation all the more remarkable is that Facebook has to be one of the most patently "unstealable" ideas out there. Facebook wasn't the first internet social network and, at the time of the suit, wasn't profoundly different than those that came before it. Facebook's success isn't due to the idea of a social network, but the skillful execution of that idea--combined, of course, with some hard work and some very lucky timing.As Mullin points out, however, these kinds of cases have increased in recent years, as the culture and legal framework we've created, that overvalues ideas and undervalues execution, leads people to think that just because they had an idea -- even if they had nothing to do with the execution -- they deserve a cut from those who did execute. While we've already posted this before, now seems like a perfect time to repost the recent recent xkcd comic on this concept:
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Dec 2nd 2010 4:17am
from the not-really-sure-that-makes-sense... dept
In a recent blog post, he not only reiterated the "ideas are worthless, execution is everything" claim but tried to take it further by suggesting (as an idea) that it might help if there was a business to bring ideas together with people to execute. Now, of course, this is just an idea and, according to Adams' own rules, it's pretty worthless. My guess is that if people tried to execute on this particular idea, they'd find that it didn't work quite the way Adams' predicts (which is sort of the point). The basic idea is that people with ideas would tape themselves in a video talking about the idea and then others who might provide related services -- such as management, capital, legal, sales, etc. -- could join up. If a "complete team" was put together via this system, then they could go execute. The concept is to remove some of the inefficiency in executing.
In my imagined future, you start by making a home video of yourself pitching your idea, just as you would to an investor. You upload your video, along with a detailed description of your idea, to a web site where other entrepreneurs around the world are doing the same thing. But instead of simply soliciting funding, you solicit an entire team, based on whatever skills your business requires. The key to making this work is that no one quits his existing job, or provides funding, until all of the resources for the idea are lined up. The main function of the system is making sure everyone's conditions for participation have been met before any risks are taken.Of course, to some extent, things like this have already been tried. There are incubators out there. There are standard legal forms. There are all sorts of entrepreneurial groups that try to bring such people together. But, for the most part, they don't seem to work all that well -- and a big part of the reason for that is the basic worthlessness of ideas. For an idea to really be executed, you don't just need the ten pieces that Adams lists out -- you need a real champion. Ask most angel investors and venture capitalists what they invest in, and it's not the idea but, quite frequently, it's the team and their overall ability to execute. Working on a startup with cofounders is, in many ways, similar to a marriage. Making sure those people can actually execute well together is a key part of it -- and this setup seems to minimize that, again focusing on the "idea" as the central focal point.
Now imagine that the legal contracts for your new business partners are based on standardized agreements that have been created by the online business to be fair to both sides. There's no wrangling about the legal details. All you need to agree on are the "fill in the blank" stuff, such as who does what, and for what equity or salary. Likewise, the funding agreements are standardized.
As the entrepreneur, you might have a hundred people vying for the job of marketing for your new company. Each person would submit a resume, perhaps some text on how they would approach this specific job, and a minimum compensation requirement. The entrepreneur might choose a marketing expert with weaker experience to keep payroll low, which might in turn cause another potential team member to back out if he thinks the marketing person is too weak for the job. This process of adding and subtracting potential team members would repeat until everyone was happy with the contribution and compensation of everyone else. And during the process, all potential team members could communicate with each other to negotiate deals and refine the idea.
In reality, however, if you're so focused on the idea, when the market changes or reality sets in, the team is less able to adjust and to change and to adapt. Adams' basic premise is correct: ideas are worthless compared to execution but the response to that is aiding with execution in a way that lets people adapt quickly over time, rather than still setting up the key "idea" as the focal point.
In the end, I tend to think Adams' idea for "monetizing" ideas is about as likely to work as the following idea from another well-known comic creator, Randall Munroe, whose recent xkcd covers the same topic from a slightly different angle:
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Nov 16th 2010 11:38am
from the you-can't-steal-ideas dept
Also quite damning is the fact that the lawsuit is being filed more than 5 years after the events took place. Daou and Boyce try to explain this away by claiming that a public legal fight would hurt their ability to get other work, which doesn't really make much sense. On top of that Daou and Boyce have been regular contributors to The Huffington Post. In the lawsuit, they suggest that they still wanted it to be a success and hoped that Huffington and Lerer would make things right. It's difficult to see this court case getting very far, but it may scare people off from having any conversations with Daou or Boyce about potentially working together on any kind of project, as it seems they might sue you in the future if you don't automatically cut them in on it if you decide to go off and do it on your own.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Nov 2nd 2010 4:03pm
from the idea-vs.-expression dept
Of course, we're always told (aren't we?) by copyright system defenders that copyright only extends to the specific expression, not the idea. It seems pretty clear that this lawsuit is claiming the "idea" was copied. So now we'll get to see if the courts really do recognize that there is supposed to be an idea/expression dichotomy in copyright law...
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Oct 13th 2010 7:11am
from the ownership-of-ideas dept
Once again, though, this does seem symptomatic of the general belief these days that it's possible to own "ideas," and that if you have an idea, then you can stop others from either having the same idea separately, or from actually implementing your idea. It's what happens when you build up a culture falsely led to believe that ideas are scarce resources like property.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Oct 6th 2010 11:55pm
from the ownership-culture dept
Of course, you can't copyright ideas and Cardillo had never actually registered the copyright on the proposal itself anyway, so there was no copyright claim. And, now the court has also tossed out the ridiculous racketeering charge. The idea that setting up a website to solicit show ideas is akin racketeering seems to be a bigger stretch than even some of the most ridiculous lawsuits we see on a daily basis.
Similarly, on the racketeering issue, the court spends a lot of time focusing on how there's no pattern of racketeering from a single incident, but it's not clear that there was even a single incident that is in any way illegal. The idea of doing a reality show of people traveling in RVs around the country is hardly unique, and the actual show is quite different than what Cardillo proposed anyway (his involved just his family driving from the US to South America -- the real show involves a bunch of families around the country involved in a contest).
Still, in the end, it's surprising that in a TV industry made up of folks who keep insisting that ideas can be "owned," that anyone would ever bother to put up a website asking for show ideas, and not expect to get sued.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Oct 5th 2010 4:34pm
from the too-bad dept
Except, as Lessig notes, in the movie, a totally different portrait is painted. One where execution is meaningless, and only ideas and lawyers seem to matter:
In Sorkin's world--which is to say Hollywood, where lawyers attempt to control every last scrap of culture--this framing makes sense. But as I watched this film, as a law professor, and someone who has tried as best I can to understand the new world now living in Silicon Valley, the only people that I felt embarrassed for were the lawyers. The total and absolute absurdity of the world where the engines of a federal lawsuit get cranked up to adjudicate the hurt feelings (because "our idea was stolen!") of entitled Harvard undergraduates is completely missed by Sorkin. We can't know enough from the film to know whether there was actually any substantial legal claim here. Sorkin has been upfront about the fact that there are fabrications aplenty lacing the story. But from the story as told, we certainly know enough to know that any legal system that would allow these kids to extort $65 million from the most successful business this century should be ashamed of itself. Did Zuckerberg breach his contract? Maybe, for which the damages are more like $650, not $65 million. Did he steal a trade secret? Absolutely not. Did he steal any other "property"? Absolutely not--the code for Facebook was his, and the "idea" of a social network is not a patent. It wasn't justice that gave the twins $65 million; it was the fear of a random and inefficient system of law. That system is a tax on innovation and creativity. That tax is the real villain here, not the innovator it burdened.It's too bad, if not surprising, that the film decides to celebrate this tax on innovation and creativity as if it makes sense.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Sep 24th 2010 7:39pm
from the the-catlady-has-'em dept
From there, things got weird. Many of the works eventually became the possession of Oxford, but about one-third of the remaining works stayed with Brod until he died in 1968 in Israel (where he had fled just before the Nazis shut down Prague), and then there are conflicting claims about where the works were supposed to go. Where the physical papers did go were to Boyd's secretary (and, many claim, his lover) who kept them and sold some of them, leading to the start of a legal fight. When she died, the papers went to her two daughters -- at least one of whom might be considered... eccentric. And thus there's quite a legal fight. The NY Times piece is long and detailed and a good read all around.
But, as Friedman notes, the key point may be this:
The situation has repeatedly been called Kafkaesque, reflecting, perhaps, the strangeness of the idea that Kafka can be anyone's private property. Isn't that what Brod demonstrated, when he disregarded Kafka's last testament: that Kafka's works weren't even Kafka's private property but, rather, belonged to humanity?Of course, this also raises separate questions about the ownership of the physical papers vs. the copyright on the works. The two are not the same, though it makes life even more confusing when you start to dig into what the copyright situation might be on some of these works. Considering that Kafka's own desire was to have them burned, only adds to the mess of questions. Though, there is one additional amusing quote, from an Israeli writer, who thinks that Kafka might actually enjoy the incredible absurdity of the current situation:
If Brod could see what was happening now, [Etgar] Keret says, he would be "horrified." Kafka, on the other hand, might be O.K. with it: "The next best thing to having your stuff burned, if you're ambivalent, is giving it to some guy who gives it to some lady who gives it to her daughters who keep it in an apartment full of cats, right?"But that question of "ownership" is really what's (rightfully) bugging Friedman, and is one of the points that we continually try to raise here at Techdirt, with our concern over how copyright has turned away from its intended purpose (promoting the progress) into this false belief that it is about "ownership." As Friedman notes:
My real point -- and the point that drives a lot of what I write on this blog -- is that we confuse things and act to our cultural detriment when we treat intellectual "property" like we treat real property. And that confusion of course extends to the ways we give dead people continued influence over their intellectual and artistic creations.