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
    Darryl, 21 Jan 2011 @ 9:39am

    Except it will increase creativity

    military technology is highly creative, and it has super strong IP laws.

    In that case, it is clear stronger IP laws, leads to greater creativity.

    Plus, what is the point of creating something, if you know that someone else is going to take that and profit from it, before you can do so?

    Someone who invents something great will keep it a secret until they have it protected.

    So when they have IP that is not protected they keep it a secret, just like the military does.

    It will not effect creativity at all, it just ensures that any creativity will be protected.

    And force you to use your own creativity if you see something that can be done different or better.

    Otherwise, no one will create, as they dont need too, they will just use what allready exists, and progress will stop.

    The exact opposite to what you claim will happen Mike,

    and dont believe me, look at the Military industry, full of amazing IP, and you never know about it.

    Should the US make its IP available on how to make weapons grade plutonium ?

    What about how to refine Anthrax ?

    What about how to build ICBM's ?

    Or fighter jets ?

    If you just steal the IP, you do not understand it as would the developer of that technology, so the chances of you being able to develop further, or maintain that system would not be the same as the original developer of the technology.

    Take for example, Microsoft windows, (rare US sucess), who would be able to develop and advance, and support win7 better than the company that developed it ?

    No one.. everything else is like a cheap knockoff, like Linux, being a 'cheap copy' of UNIX, and its app suite.

    Becarefull for what you wish for, it may just come true.

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