Subject: [openip] Re: "rights" and "freedoms"
From: Ian Carr-de Avelon <>
Date: Sat, 16 Oct 1999 10:47:27 +0100

>IMO, what made the difference was enforceable "intellectual property"
>rights, which are a relatively new concept historically.  Are you suggesting
>that the concept of "intellectual property" is (or should be) a brief detour
>from which we're about to move back on track?  The dominant forces in the
>world economy seem to be (successfully) pushing hard in the opposite
>direction, what with lengthening copyright terms, allowing patenting of
>patterns of human interaction (Priceline) and human genes, ....
I used (c1980) to chat with a guy (William Overington) who had once had the idea of
sending free software
via teletext (ie the data which is included on unused lines in a TV signal).
The BBC had ridiculed his idea and then years later did it in a much less open
way. He had had a whole set of ideas as to how it might be financed. By
the time I knew him he had moved on to applying catastrophy theory
to addoption of new ideas. Quite a lot of work was being done then in 
that direction and good parallels can be found. 
Basicly catastophy theory is the maths which deals with systems which
change slowly and reversably up to a point, and then sudenly and irreversably.
The standard mechanical system which demonstrates this is a buckling beam
(If you have never seen this
Take a ruler and place it between two virtical objects which are not quite
as far appart as it is long, so it bends upward. Now start puting things on
top of it. At first it bends slightly, and if you take the weight away it 
will go  back to where it started. The movement due to adding more weight
slowly becomes less. However at some point just the addition of a few grams
more will cause it to buckle and even taking everything off will not cause
the beam to return to its orriginal possition)
The powers at be are, as you say, moving towards longer and greater protection,
but all stable systems have ways of resisting change. If you accept that
20 years rights used to be enough for creating a children's character, then
50, 70 now 100 years, and you realise that cash you will earn in the future
is worth less now the further it is into the future, then you can see that
adding another 100 years or a 1000 years is not like the initial addoption
of the system and we must be almost at the limit of the system to remain
stable. We should expect desperate resistance and slower progress as
we reach catastrophy.

>> Yet salaries of people making this software has gone up.  I have heard
>> estimates that the average VB programmer in NYC makes $70,000/year.
>I'm looking for evidence, not anecdotes.
You will have your evidence, but once it is all over. All that there can be
now is parallels with things which have occured previously.
One of the giant changes brought by the industrial revolution is the fall
in the price of clothing. In the 18th century the average person had only
the cloths which they stood up in and rich people (eg people with 20 
servants) had only 3 changes of clothing. Men joined the British Army to
fight the Yankies because they got a full new uniform once every year.
The first autimation in textiles was in spinning and huge fortunes were
made and lost in starting spinning mills, but the peoriod is termed 
"the golden age of the hand loom weaver" because the weavers became the
best paid workers. They became the bottle neck. The VB programmer is
now the bottle neck. The PC is cheap, the OS is cheap, the operator
is cheap, but the VB programmer is the bottle neck. 
Changes in technology produce new bottle necks and it is good to have
skills in a bottle neck area. This is the lesson of history.