Re: When is an MP3 NOT a nonrival, nonexcludable good?

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Thu Oct 25 2001 - 10:00:15 MDT

Alex said:

> I'm NOT only arguing against obeying intellectual property laws.
> I'm arguing against passage, obedience, enforcement, and for repeal.
> I don't dispute the fact that under current law the majority of this
> list are criminals of one non-violent sort or another, including but
> not restricted to copyright infringement. I dispute the legitimacy,
> utility, and enforceability of current law.

I would argue the counter point for this has been provided before by
Alex's (rhetorical?) comments about "government intervention" quoted by Rafal:

> Or is this inefficiency worth it because it creates areas with
> high concentrations of technological infrastructure and educated
> workers so that technology progresses faster than it would if
> wealth/people/tech were distributed purely according to the dynamics
> of a perfectly competitive market?

If patents or copyrights didn't exist then there would be little
incentive for investors to provide the funds for everything from
biotech startups to movies like The Matrix.

Now note that this is a bit different from the MP3 question
from the perspective that the infrastructure required for
biotech startups and movies generally starts at $1-5M.
That differs from "bands" where the infrastructure required
might be less than $10K. Generally speaking bands don't "need"
investors (though one might view the record labels who
create bands by design as such) while biotech and movies do.

So if you want rapid technology progress you *need* to have a
system where investors believe that they will have a "protected"
ROI that balances the risk of early stage investments.

Note that as costs decline for such things as HDTV cameras,
computer based film editing equipment and VR design tools
become increasingly realistic and run on faster computers
I think the film industry becomes more like the music industry
(in its need for "protection"). The same may be true in the
biotechnology industry over the next decade as technologies
develop. I suspect however there will always be some industries
that will require protection for investors to take risks
that facilitate their development. Thus, IMO, the solution
is not to do away with patents and copyrights but to reform
them to match specific industries (e.g. drug patents that
last 10 years instead of 20).


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