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...
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Curious, 28 Sep 2005 @ 1:23pm

    hmm

    As regards patents, the balance of granting a monopoly is needed to motivate people to invest in research. Sure, sometimes you get lucky and get rewarded many times over the cost of the research, but many times not. Are you suggesting society would be better off without these expensive research undertaking? I doubt it, but without a monopoly, then how do you provide motivation for people to undertake expensive research.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • 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?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    nonuser (BS), 28 Sep 2005 @ 8:06pm

    such as silly argument

    Anyone is free to set up shop across the street from the only pizza joint on the block, but that would cost significant sums for rent, remodeling, utilities, food, and labor.

    It costs next to nothing to copy and redistribute someone else's digital work, unless it's illegal and you count the costs of mounting a legal defense.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Jeremy Leader, 28 Sep 2005 @ 11:49pm

      Re: such as silly argument

      You're assuming that the biggest cost for a vendor of IP (software, entertainment, etc.) is development of that IP. I suspect that in most cases, things like marketing, sales, customer service and support, etc. cost *much* more than initial development. Which brings us back closer to the pizza realm.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike (profile), 29 Sep 2005 @ 2:16am

      Re: such as silly argument

      Actually, it's easy to flip that around. The fact that it costs next to nothing to redistribute a work should be seen as an *opportunity*. Suddenly, the costs of content creators has been slashed. Instead, they seem to see it as a threat.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        patrick, 29 Sep 2005 @ 9:23am

        Re: such as silly argument

        But why does cost of creation matter? If you build a house for $1 or $1 million, it is still your house and permits you to exclude others from using it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Essential Reading
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.