Ideas Do Matter, But That Has Nothing To Do With 'Intellectual Property'

from the keep-up-folks dept

Glyn Moody points us to a website put together by Microsoft, Philips and DSM -- three giant companies that have relied heavily on intellectual property laws to fend off upstart competitors and disruptive innovation -- called Ideas Matter - the value of intellectual property. As you can tell from the title, the website focuses on two key points, which they then try to conflate as a single point: (1) Ideas matter and (2) because of that, intellectual property is important.

Of course, there's a huge problem with this: while ideas do matter, that has nothing to do with intellectual property. As people are quick to point out in our comments any time we suggest that ideas are being blocked or censored by intellectual property laws, such laws are not supposed to apply to ideas. In fact, it's explicit with both copyright and patent law. In copyright law, protection is supposed to be applied to expression, not ideas, and the difference is supposed to be key -- even if it isn't always observed. Similarly, with patents, protection is supposed to be applied to inventions, not ideas -- again even if that isn't regularly observed in practice.

To be honest, I find this particularly nefarious and disingenuous, in that any time people point out that ideas are being censored, defenders of IP laws insist that there's a split and "ideas" are not covered. Yet, when these same folks seek to push forth a propaganda campaign in support of greater protectionism, they use the claim that "ideas matter" to support those laws. Not surprisingly, given the nature of the site's name and premise itself, the rest of the site is filled with ridiculous and unsupported propaganda, such as this laughably misleading video that seems to assume that because certain things are protected by intellectual property laws, they wouldn't exist without them. It also tosses out ridiculous debunked industry figures on "losses" due to infringement. This is extreme propaganda.

Filed Under: copyright, ideas, intellectual property, patents
Companies: dsm, microsoft, philips


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  1. icon
    Greevar (profile), 11 Jun 2011 @ 12:37pm

    Re: Ideas Do Matter, But ....

    The founding fathers instituted the power to create copyright and patent, but not a mandate to do so. I think they were planning ahead in this, as it avoids the issue of copyright being a default right rather than one that is granted. If copyright and patent should prove to not serve its intended purpose to promote science and art, it can be removed from law with ordinary legislation. It was never meant to be forever, but only as long as it promotes the progress and since it is apparent that it no longer does, especially in its current state, then it should be revoked before it gets worse.

    As a copyright and patent lawyer (I refuse to use the term "IP" seriously.), you should know that these two systems were meant to promote the progress by providing incentive to authors for the opportunity (as opposed to a mandate) of exclusive rights to profit from works for a limited time. Look at copyright today and tell me that it provides incentive to create more works (which would promote the progress) rather than to use their copyright to produce fewer works, but squeeze every work to its maximum potential profit. That is not what copyright and patent is for. Copyright and patent encourages people to hoard ideas and inventions for the express opportunity to use it as leverage for profit while contributing as little additional labor as possible.

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