Felten Names The Pizzaright Principle

from the live-it dept

For years, in arguments over intellectual property, it often makes sense to make comparisons to tangible goods to show where arguments break down. A personal favorite for many years is to use pizza as an example good. Not sure why, but it's an easy example. Apparently, I'm not alone. Ed Felten has written up a new concept, called The Pizzaright Principle, as a way of examining claims for stricter intellectual property laws. His argument is that if you can apply the same reasons people say we need stronger intellectual property laws to the idea that someone deserves an exclusive right to sell pizza in a certain market, then you've shown why the arguments being given are bogus. This is a simple recognition: intellectual property laws are granting a monopoly to the owner. In a market economy there are very few situations where a monopoly is the most efficient or best solution for everyone. Whoever is in line to get the monopoly, however, is always going to claim it's a better result. Unfortunately, our politicians seem to only listen to those in line to get the monopoly rights on intellectual property -- and thus, have no problem continually expanding those rights well beyond what's good for the economy or society. So, Pizzaright it is. Now watch, Felten will sue us for trademark infringement...
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  1. icon
    Mike (profile), 28 Sep 2005 @ 1:37pm

    Re: hmm

    There is very mixed evidence as to how much patents actually motivate research. If you look at the case of periods of time in places like Switzerland and the Netherlands where they did away with patents -- innovation thrived. It certainly suggests that the market is an adequate method of rewarding people for innovation, and that should motivate them.

    Could there be cases where monopoly rights are needed? Perhaps. But, why do we assume they're needed in so many cases, when most of the examples we keep seeing clearly don't deserve monopoly protection?

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