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.
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Filed Under: china, competition, free markets, innovation, p2p, regulations


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 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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