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. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jun 2011 @ 11:32am

    Re: Re: Ideas Do Matter, But ....

    The limited time thing is what anti-copyright lawyers tend to like to hang their hats on, but it a pretty iffy term to work with.

    Disney is often used as the example, and the truth is that the Mickey Mouse brand, content, videos, shows, and even original movies are still valuable, and the public still values them enough to pay to see them. With a valid and ongoing brand, it is easy to imagine the brand harm that could be done by people corrupting the original works if they were in the public domain.

    In a similar fashion, consider TV programs and syndication. Many modern TV products are not profitable in and of themselves as an original work. They only because financial viable when they reach the second or third round on syndication. Many shows never make it. The incentive is there to encourage new works, and to encourage people to take risks. Without financial viablity, there would be little desire to move forward with the initial product.

    We also have to look at the public's valuation of the products. With people paying money for cable channels that have classic TV shows on them, buying box sets, and even still buying the proverbial t-shirts, it is clear that the works have enough value that they could be abused if dumping too quickly into the public domain.

    Patents last for such a short time in reality. I mean, Viagra is already expired patent in Brazil, and will expire in the US next year. That is just a blink of the eye in bigger picture. It's come and it's gone.

    Copyright doesn't allow people to hoard ideas. It is somewhat distressing to see a copyright lawyer who can't understand the concepts in play.

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