Subject: Re: [openip] Re: "rights" and "freedoms"
From: Stephen Turnbull <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp>
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 1999 14:08:54 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "Jean" == Jean Camp <Jean_Camp@harvard.edu> writes:

    Jean> The french revolutionary period is a great place to look for
    Jean> cases where intellectual property controls were overly
    Jean> constrained (under the old regime) and then too loose (after
    Jean> the first revolution).  In both cases there was a race to
    Jean> the bottom in the 'popular' press, with even policitcal
    Jean> commentary becoming pornography.  Both extremems resutl in
    Jean> the same output; not enough quality material being
    Jean> circulated and used.

"Political commentary" and "popular press" have a rather different set 
of "users" from software.

The French revolution also is a dangerous analogy because they did not 
have the technology for trading in licenses on intellectual property
that we do or will soon have (e-cash, etc).  I am not prepared to
argue that that is a good or bad thing, only that you will
(eventually) need to account for it in your analysis.

    Jean> I would say that the state of software reliability argues
    Jean> that the contraints are wrong for software now. The policy
    Jean> needs to change one way or the other.

Can you expand on the link you see?  I don't see a strong link in
general; the Linux kernel is superbly reliable by reputation and in my 
own experience, but open source _user_ applications run the gamut.
The closer to state-of-the-art they are, the less reliable.

    Jean> In contrast here is the problem with intellectual property:
    Jean> the WTO. There is no place which is free to explore the
    Jean> possibilities of intellectual property policy if the WTO
    Jean> manages to se global standards. And we could never know the
    Jean> price in lost wealth -- and remaining poverty -- paid for
    Jean> making the wrong choice (paid by those who did not make the
    Jean> choice).

This is not strictly true; one could provide for broader protections
internally without violating the WTO standards, AFAIK, and laxer ones
for domestic innovations as long as internationally traded ones were
protected to WTO standards.  But it certainly would make it
politically and economically hard to experiment, sufficiently so that
in practice you're probably right.


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