The Inventors Of The Internet On Intellectual Property

from the diverging-views? dept

The folks over at NewsScan put together two different interviews of the two people, Robert Kahn and Vint Cerf, credited for inventing TCP/IP (often said to have “invented the internet”). It’s interesting because both Cerf and Kahn comment on intellectual property matters related to the internet. Kahn takes a very opinionated stance saying that the country needs to deal with
“the widespread lack of respect for the value of intellectual property” and claims there’s really no such thing as fair use, since it was put in place by the courts and not codified as law. Meanwhile, Cerf seems to focus on the fair use side of things saying that, “the ease of duplicating digital content will likely lead to new definitions of fair use”. Both are interesting reads. Kahn’s view of intellectual property, unfortunately, misses the point. Telling people they ought to “respect” intellectual property is a dead end strategy that is never going to work. Instead, people should try to step back and think of what opportunities are presented in a world where intellectual property is often openly shared and built upon. The problem of hoarding intellectual property is slowing down business opportunities much more than the threat of intellectual property “theft”.

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Comments on “The Inventors Of The Internet On Intellectual Property”

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mgallagher says:

Not to be overly philosophical, but...

Robert Kahn does have a point, fair use is not codified into law. However if we’re going to play that game, “intellectual property” exists ONLY as a legal concept. Other forms of property I can retain (or have taken from me) as physical reality dictates. The laws of ownership for physical forms of property really just provide a method for orderly transfer of ownership, rather than the strongest guy taking a bunch of stuff. Thomas Jefferson recgonized this fact when he wrote about the original “bargain” that became US copyright law in the constitution.

Essentially it comes down to this: There’s no way to actually “own” an idea (unless you secure it by keeping it a secret) so we, as a society will make you a deal. We’ll all pretend that you own it for a few years to encourage you to produce good ideas through having the right to sell what you own. Then in a few years we’ll stop pretending and everyone will get to use the idea.

Seems astoundingly reasonable to me. Unfortunately there seems to be a real effort to make the pretend part reality and the reality appear as the legal constuction. Ultimately, this has about the same chance of succeeding as legislating the value of PI. But it can make all of our lives miserable in the mean time.

So the message is, Kahn is right, fair use doesn’t exist as legislation anywhere, but intellectual property doesn’t exist anywhere BUT as legistlation.

LittleW0lf says:

Re: Not to be overly philosophical, but...

So the message is, Kahn is right, fair use doesn’t exist as legislation anywhere, but intellectual property doesn’t exist anywhere BUT as legistlation.

And there are some who think it shouldn’t exist in legislation.

I agree with you completely, but go one step further, it is also societies responsibility to make sure that the idea is maintained and can grow to the betterment of society. Unfortunately, with the current situation, that is extremely difficult to accomplish, and most ideas die in limbo instead of being maintained and allowed to grow.

Imagine if copyright existed in Greece 3000-4000 years ago, would we be reading the Illiad and the Odyssey? What if copyright existed Life plus 95 years during the time when King Arthur or Robin Hood was written, or Shakespeare wrote MacBeth or Romeo and Juliet, would we still have these works today? I doubt so, the pages would have been eaten by moths and silverfish long before the work became public domain.

I am not against authors, publishers, screenwriters, or other producers (for I myself am one,) getting a temporary monopoly to futher themselves, but the fact that a great deal of our intellectual works are slipping away into obscurity due to Disney’s greed really makes me angry…I’d be happy in seeing the laws regarding intellectual property fixed so that the time is temporary (17 years, as it was originally written,) not permanent like it currently is.

KJH (user link) says:

Fair Use

FAIR USE WAS NEVER MEANT TO APPLY TO CONSUMERS, therefore why should they respect it. Fair use can be derived directly from the copyright clause notwithstanding section 107 fair use. In the course of copyright legislation and through a drafting error that occurred at the time of the 1909 act fair use was now being applied to consumers where previously it had only applied to a competitor?s use or piracy:

??As originally promulgated, the fair use doctrine was a fair “competitive” use doctrine designed to enable a rival author or publisher to use a copyrighted work in preparing another publication.? Therefore, the doctrine applied only to competitors, not consumers.?

Therefore an individual user should not be liable for copyright infringement unless their actions rise to the level of piracy. Allow Professor Patterson to explain: “The competitor uses the copyright; the consumer uses the work. The copyright owner, by reason of the Copyright Act and the copyright clause, has not only no right to interfere, but a duty not to interfere with the consumer’s use of a publicly disseminated work.”

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