Senator Wyden Lays Out Broad Internet Freedom Agenda, Warns Against 'Maximalist' Agenda That Harms Innovation
from the more-of-this-please dept
What chills the sharing of ideas and collaboration is the maximalist approach to copyrights and patents. Rights-holders are too eager to use their power to scare off challenges to the status quo, and this perpetuates stagnation.Other items of interest: he's working with Senator Al Franken on taking an antitrust approach to deal with net neutrality. Details obviously matter -- and I've been quite skeptical of net neutrality laws, as they seem ripe for regulatory capture by big broadband providers -- but an antitrust approach is at least an interesting idea. We've been arguing for nearly a decade that the whole concept of "net neutrality" is something of a red herring. The only reason net neutrality is an issue is because of a lack of competition. Thus, taking an antitrust approach may actually make sense, though (again) the details matter quite a bit.
On patents, he's arguing that we need much more detailed info on the impact of software patents on the economy:
A related concern is the affect of software patents on America’s ability to innovate. Congress should begin a review – a cost-benefit analysis – of software patents’ contribution to the economy. The acquisition of these patents appears less about deploying innovation and more about employing a legal arsenal. The patent system should not, as Julie Samuels at EFF says, operate as a tax on innovation, as it does now. How are you promoting innovation if you stand behind a law that enables a few lines of code to be patentable for 20 years? Software is different than a new invention. It is a building block -- a new set of instructions -- that should be continually built upon and improved.This is good... but I still get nervous when people focus too much on software patents. There are significant problems with all kinds of patents, and focusing just on "software" alone, may leave other problems in place. Still, more data and information is a good thing, and a serious look at the economic impact of software patents can only be a good thing.
In separate conversations after his speech, Wyden made it clear that with all the other -- more high profile -- things that Congress is fighting over in the next few months, it may be difficult to get too much through Congress, but he is quite reasonably optimistic about how many people in Congress are awakening to the importance of the internet and to understanding the wider concerns of all of us who use the internet on a daily basis.