Another Example Of Less Intellectual Property Protection Leading To More Innovation

from the innovation-without-IP dept

ZeroPaid, TechCrunch and Wired are all pointing to a video interview done by writer Thomas Crampton of a guy in China, who talks about how much more advanced P2P technology is in China, mostly because the makers of that technology don't have to constantly hide themselves underground or fight with the entertainment industry and the government just for the right to exist. While some are saying this is quite a revelation (others are pointing out that the claims seem exaggerated), it shouldn't be surprising at all to find out the technology is getting better without the constant pressure from the entertainment industry. For years, we've seen example after example after example of where the fight to more stringently protect intellectual property in the name of innovation has actually done the opposite, slowing down the pace of innovation. In fact there are whole books on the topic. This is merely another example. While the entertainment industry has continued to insist that more stringent copyright laws help promote innovation, that's increasingly being proven incorrect.

Amusingly, it seems that the "protectionist" China is leading the way with much more free market policies on these issues. Two and a half years ago, we pointed out that, despite all the problems with rampant "piracy," the Chinese music industry was doing extremely well -- because those musicians had learned to adapt and embrace new business models that didn't require directly selling the music. It's only two years later that musicians outside of China seem to be catching up.

However, the more important lesson here is in understanding the unintended consequences at play. The RIAA and the MPAA (and Congress, through the generous donations of those two organizations) have talked about how important it is to "protect" content -- but in doing so, they crippled the industry for developing P2P tools, which have the potential to be a much more important part of economic activity in the future. Better tools for the distribution and promotion of content are quite important, and by cracking down on that in the name of "piracy" we've now hurt the US's ability to lead in that field -- and without any real benefit to the content creators the industry was so anxious to protect. It's really the same as any other protectionist policy. If you protect an industry, it just allows others elsewhere to be more innovative and more nimble and to take control over that industry. It simply destroys the industry at home where it's supposedly "protected" and hurts consumers by offering them less innovation for more money.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Jorge, Oct 17th, 2007 @ 6:30pm

    Let me get this straight: a fake technology is proof that less IP results in more innovation?

    That's some might fine logic you've got there. I hear the Bush Administration is hiring people like you.

     

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  2.  
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    Morgan, Oct 17th, 2007 @ 9:51pm

    Is RIAA Compulsory?

    I don't really agree on this whole mess. Any artist, as far as I know, could exactly follow the Chinese model anytime. I don't think, unless it's compulsory, any organization can hold an entire industry back. The bands are free yesterday, today, and tomorrow to do that if it's making so much money in China.

    I think the problem I have with this is that disagreeing with a business model becomes a sort of excuse for piracy. Stealing is stealing, if a company or an artist has a ridiculous set of terms to follow, it should hurt them in the pocketbook by no one listening. Unfortunately, people decide to steal instead. Dumb.

    I'm just glad Radiohead finally pointed out how weak it was to claim all the P2P was somehow a revolt against the DRM and RIAA and overpriced music. Even at $1, people choose to steal as opposed to not listening, and they deserve prosecution just like any other thief.

     

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  3.  
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    Evil Mike, Oct 17th, 2007 @ 9:53pm

    Re:

    "That's some might fine logic you've got there."

    Ah, I see you have the ability to think.

    Imagine if the companies producing oil lanterns had gotten their injunction against Edison and his light bulb--then, you wouldn't need to worry about your electric bill today!

    Wouldn't that be wonderful?

     

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  4.  
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    Danny, Oct 17th, 2007 @ 10:02pm


    Better tools for the distribution and promotion of content are quite important, and by cracking down on that in the name of "piracy" we've now hurt the US's ability to lead in that field -- and without any real benefit to the content creators the industry was so anxious to protect.


    The thing to point here is that in the case of the RIAA the industry is not trying to protect the creators, they are trying to protect themselves. If musicians were being so badly hurt by piracy wouldn't they be up in arms about it too? But no over the last decade or so there are have been very few musical acts that have complained about how piracy has hurt them.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 17th, 2007 @ 10:48pm

    Re:

    metallica baby

     

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  6.  
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    Michael Long, Oct 17th, 2007 @ 11:58pm

    Lagging in P2P technology...

    Since the topic seems to be about abolishing copyright, what's the problem if China develops better P2P software?

    We'll just let them do all the work and steal it when they're done...

     

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  7.  
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    Scott Horvath, Oct 18th, 2007 @ 2:21am

    Where's my P2P?

    I completely agree that the RIAA and MPAA have help lead to the crippling of P2P tools in this country. They're need for short-term wealth, and the ability to pound their chimpanizic-chests when they successfully sue someone, is not only affecting the development of P2P tools but also the negative connotation that P2P tools have in businesses...especially government.

    Many government agencies, just like mine, forbid the use of P2P. Why? Because it's still seen as a "music" sharing tool. Additionally, there's no training that's given to people when new tools come out...so they're not aware of how to use P2P tools effectively instead of opening up their entire system. We [the government] probably waste a vast amount of money (that we don't have) on bandwidth, tech support, and production time when people send 10 MB PowerPoint files in an email. Then (if you use Lotus Notes and simply hit "reply") it resends the entire email with the attachment BACK to all the people on the email thread. So this happens 10 times during one email conversation.

    If we were allowed to use P2P tools, and if they trained people how to use them, I could send an email and say my schpeel and then say "you can get the attachment from my shared folder" instead of attaching that 40 MB presentation with non web-optimized graphics.

    Bleh!

     

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  8.  
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    Danny, Oct 18th, 2007 @ 5:30am

    Re: Re:


    there have been very few musical acts


    care to name some more?

     

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  9.  
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    RandomThoughts, Oct 18th, 2007 @ 5:44am

    Wall Street Journal covered the Radiohead announcement and wrote that while this type of promotion and distribution will work for some, it won't be the best route for the majority of acts that want to make it big.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2007 @ 6:11am

    RE: Where's my P2P?

    Scott,

    You are so right. It is much like training the ARMY or MARINES to go to war, by not taking them to the field, or allowing them to fire real weapons. The ARMY was starting to dabble with the theory of warfare classes when I got out. They wanted to reduce injuries by taking us out of the field and putting us in a lecture hall and train by watching CG simulations. No offense, but they are just prepping us to die quickly.

    The same is true for the music industry, you kill off all of these great file sharing apps, and you make it impossible for companies and government to effectively save on bandwidth. I run a colocation in a carrier hotel and I am always trying to reduce costs by thinning out my bandwidth consumption. Granted, I have no problems when my customers demand more, because they pay for it, but my own applications need constant pruning.

    Bandwidth, although much cheaper than it used to be, is still very expensive. P2P is a great way to help curb over usage. I use bittorrent to do large file transfers, because I share the files from each of my POPs in each major city. This spreads the bandwidth usage over many locations and reduces the overall footprint.

    Media organizations have been doing this (crushing innovation) for decades, they see technology as a threat, rather than a gold mine. The real issue is that they don't want to understand how his can help them, they just want to kill it before it hurts them at all. Unfortunately fear is an excellent motivator. Too bad it typically overpowers the motivation for money, and the need to help humanity grow.

     

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  11.  
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    RandomThoughts, Oct 18th, 2007 @ 6:30am

    Humanity grows when kids P2P Britney songs?

    I understand that P2P can be a good tool, but you can't just expect folks that produce content to just roll over when they see their revenue model go away. Just because it saves bandwidth for you doesn't make it important to them.

    From the Wall Street Journal on the 15th "In wondering about the answers to those questions, don't expect many other bands to follow Radiohead's lead. When you're a band as big as Thom Yorke and Co., the rules change -- yet even Radiohead isn't completely leaving the old ways behind. "Eliminating the middleman" has become information-age gospel, but however distasteful artists may find middlemen in theory, in practice they're not so easy to do without.

    From the Journal today discuss guidelines to prevent copyright voilations: "The agreed-upon principles include using technology to eliminate copyright-infringing content uploaded by users to Web sites, and blocking any infringing material before it is publicly accessible, says the person familiar with the matter."

    Microsoft, Dailymotion, NBC, News Corp, Viacom, Disney and others. Google is in discussion to join the group.

    What does this mean for P2P? I think that will be the next target.

     

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  12.  
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    Gerry, Oct 18th, 2007 @ 10:01am

    Good.

    The US doesn't deserve to lead in "that field" and "that field" has done nothing for the US. Hollywood could go away and I personally would not miss it much. A bunch of lunatics in the biggest outdoor asylum in the US.

     

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  13.  
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    markusfarkus, Oct 18th, 2007 @ 11:34am

    Radiohead album is great

    May I just say that I am really enjoying the new business model that Radiohead has put forth! The album is great...there is a very high chance that I will purchase the CD now that I have heard the album!

     

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  14.  
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    Brian, Oct 18th, 2007 @ 12:20pm

    Re: Where's my P2P?

    My friend, in a previous government job, that was the bane of my existence. I would have 64K INMARSAT Mini-M terminal dialed back into our LAN and would receive Powerpoint attachments between 50-100MB...you can imagine how well the system handled that and the amount of money spent on satellite bandwidth. I once saw a $1.2M MONTHLY satellite access bill (from one terminal amongst many). Crazy.

     

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  15.  
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    Anthony Kuhn, Oct 18th, 2007 @ 1:13pm

    Whoa, that's crazy talk!

    Mike:

    Well, good on you for taking such a controversial stance on the issue of P2P piracy and innovation. I'm not sure on which side of the issue to stand, but I know that many people who own IP stand on the side of copyrights and making money from their efforts. Wonder how the Chinese will feel when some "up-and-coming" nations are infringing on their ideas and stealing rice from their mouths? Will they then "give them time to become law-abiding global citizens" or will the sick the WTO on them? Only time will tell. I cross-posted on your piece to http://blog.innovators-network.org The Innovators Network is a non-profit dedicated to bringing technology to startups, small businesses, non-profits, venture capitalists and intellectual property experts. Please visit us and help grown our community!

    Best wishes for continued success,

    Anthony Kuhn
    Innovators Network

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2007 @ 6:30pm

    Re: Whoa, that's crazy talk!

    I'm curious as to why you equated "infringement" to "stealing" and where your funding as a non-profit comes from. Does your group have any agenda that it is promoting?

     

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  17.  
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    DISCONTENTS, Oct 18th, 2007 @ 9:35pm

    Protection versus Property Rights

    Government protection of an industry leading to a fall in consumer sovereignty in the short-run and a decline in the industry's competitiveness in the long-run is a very valid point and has often been a stumbling block on the road to economic growth.

    Property rights however, are also a fundamental element to economic growth in market economies, so while intellectual property rights can be over-zealously protected and enforced, their existence is nevertheless fundamental.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Bush, Oct 19th, 2007 @ 11:54am

    Re: fussy-logic

    Jorge is dead-wrong and right; it is no secret, by rightiousdom decree...I do hire the likes of liars.

     

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  19.  
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    SailorRipley, Oct 19th, 2007 @ 12:09pm

    Re: Is RIAA Compulsory?

    You know, you sound a whole lot less stupid and ignorant if you stopped confusing copyright infringement with theft.

    As for your claim about any artist being able to follow the Chinese model anytime, you really think record companies wouldn't hold their artists to their contracts???

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    SailorRipley, Oct 19th, 2007 @ 12:20pm

    Re:

    I understand that P2P can be a good tool, but you can't just expect folks that produce content to just roll over when they see their revenue model go away. Just because it saves bandwidth for you doesn't make it important to them.

    Yet there are no restrictions on the legality or opportunities for innovation of knives, crowbars,... even though those can be used for illegal activities.

    So why exactly should P2P software (or more generally, any software that by using it in an illegal fashion would cost the content producers money) be exceptions?

    While I'm making remarks: it's not the content producers (artists, etc...) but the content distributors(record companies) who are limiting innovation

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    SailorRipley, Oct 19th, 2007 @ 12:23pm

    Re: Protection versus Property Rights

    Unfortunately for you, and as has been pointed out here on TechDirt and elsewhere numerous times:

    property rights =/= intellectual property rights

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    elisa, Oct 28th, 2007 @ 10:53pm

    Can't stop illegal downloaders

    You can't beat people who are going to illegally downlowad. You can make it harder but as Drew Lanza points out as data storage capacity exponentially increases, so does the temptation to steal intellectual property. nbsp; And I think you are smart in suggesting that media learn how to work with p2p and file-sharing programs because, they can't stop it.

     

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


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