Would Photography Have Been Different If It Had Been Patented Up?
from the who-needs-patents? dept
Also, as you read the details, you could see how it could have even made sense for Daguerre to have freed up the idea anyway, without the government pension:
With a flurry of advance publicity, Daguerre and Arago made the technical details public on Aug. 19. They also described Niepce's earlier processes, heliography and the physautotype, but presented the daguerreotype alone as having a future.Notice how the freeing of the ideas not only led almost immediately to important improvements, but it also drove all sorts of business opportunities in related scarcities. In theory, even without a pension, you could see how the inventors could have lined up a partnership or investment to help sell the supplies needed to make the cameras and plates -- which quickly became a lucrative business. or, certainly, they could have helped set up or financed the "Daguerreotypomania" studios as well.
And what a future! Within days, opticians and chemists in Paris sold out of the supplies needed to make cameras and plates. Improvements to the process followed within weeks. Daguerre's instruction manual was translated into a dozen languages within months.
No one wanted to have a portrait painted; everyone wanted a daguerreotype. Studios opened all over Paris. "Daguerreotypomania" spread from Paris to the rest of France, then across the continent, across the channel to England and across the Atlantic to America.
It's yet another example of where freeing an idea, rather than limiting it, actually resulted in much greater innovation and much greater economic activity. That's what promoting the progress is supposed to be about, but it's funny how it's the lack of patents that seems to do that more than patents.
Just as a thought exercise, what do you think would have happened if Daguerre had been able to patent the concept instead. Would there have been such a rapid pace of innovation? Would there have been as many sales? Would studios and such a mania happen all over the world? I would bet that all of that would be quite unlikely.