A Key Myth That Drives Bad Policy: Stronger IP Laws Mean More Creativity

from the debunk-it dept

Ars Technica has an article highlighting Rep. Marsha Blackburn's "conservative tech policy goals," which has a heavy focus on ramping up intellectual property laws and enforcement. Of course, I don't see how that's any different than the "liberal tech policy" these days. Of course, this reinforces the general point that intellectual property issues are not partisan, as both major parties seem to be beholden to the interests of those who abuse IP laws.

However, as Ars demonstrates, Blackburn makes a fundamental economic fallacy in her reasoning -- and it's this fallacy that seems to be made over and over again in debates about intellectual property:
Proposition 1: The ascendant economic sector is the Creative Economy

Proposition 2: The primary commodity in this economy is intellectual property.

Proposition 3: The Creative Economy thrives online, in what is a unique, prosperous, and until recently free marketplace.
The mistake is thinking that "intellectual property laws" are the same as creative output. It's a nefarious fallacy that we see all the time. It leads to the false claim that "more IP = more creative economy." And yet, the final point in the list kind of highlights the fallacy. In fact, studies that looked into the reasons why creativity has thrived online found that it was often the absence of strict IP enforcement that resulted in such a free and open marketplace.

Furthermore, the whole basis of this line of thinking is to ignore that much of what has made the internet valuable is not that it's a broadcast medium for professional content, but that it's a communications medium, built around sharing content and speech. As Ars properly notes:
It results in a view of tech policy that is all about increasing the protection for intellectual property with little concern for the important connectivity, civic participation, and access to knowledge the Internet also provides--think e-mail, the robust political debate at online blogs, and Wikipedia, none of which need "stronger" IP protections.
It's really quite unfortunate that so many of our elected officials, no matter what their political party, seem to have fallen for the same fallacy, that seeks to turn the internet into the next version of television, rather than focusing on what the internet actually does well.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jan 2011 @ 6:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Find me a media executive...

    Before them the Japanese made great use of laws to screw American business.

    You think those people would learn something, the Japanese endured a lot to get a piece of the American market, they complied with every single regulation that was throw at them trying to break their will and ended up delivering higher quality products for a fraction of the cost in the process that decimated the American manufacturing park because they couldn't compete anymore.

    Then they got tired of having to endure American policies and tried to create their own market place in Asia it worked, but not in the way the envisioned.

    At some point these people need to understand that other will not stop hammering them or protect them, maybe the U.S. government is kin on that, but what it is really doing is creating a environment where without protection they wouldn't survive out in the real world.

    The American government is afraid that it will have to endure the same thing it inflicted upon others, and they are making a pretty damn good job at giving that power to others to do just that, those laws eventually will be used against U.S. interests others are rapidly catching up and in some case even surpassing U.S. capabilities, when the tables turn what happens then? go back on their word and start preaching something different?

    The solution is cooperation, global cooperation not a monopoly. People all around should be working to produce something and that production should be local, that is not going to happen with corporations locking up everything.

    Americans can compete in price and work, they just don't have the laws to do so, people don't have the freedom to produce anything anymore and that is a big problem.

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