The main point I took away from the readings this week is that defining intellectual property – especially with regards to intangible material online – is difficult. Wherever one point of view is created, there is always an alternate perception on the matter. Boldrin and Levine (2007) made an interesting point with regards to the analogy drawn from the emergence of the steam engine. The functionality of copyright, as expressed through James Watt’s invention and resultant attempt to eliminate competition through his innovation and patent of the steam engine. They note that once Watt’s patents were secured and production started, a substantial portion of his energy was devoted to fending off rival inventors.
“The wasteful effort to suppress competition and obtain special privileges is referred to by economists as rent-seeking behavior.”
This point caused me to think, that perhaps instead of finding ways to suppress information within the ‘free-flow information economy’ that is the Internet – more measures could be taken to ensure both the producers and users benefit from the sources which are created by and available to consumers? But this would most certainly erupt in a debate of opportunity cost with the producer and consumer, which would seemingly take us back to square one – or in the case of Apple and Samsung – rectangle one.
Lessig (2004) points out that scientists build upon the work of other scientists without asking or paying for the privilege, as one does not have to ask to borrow an established theory. However, one would acknowledge the use of this work in a reference. Consequently, could a reference be perceived as enough? Could the downloading of a song and its reference being its ‘title’ be considered a reference to the content? Does it not hold value for both the producer and consumer in this sense? And the cycle starts again…
Boldrin, M., and Levine, D.K. (2007). Introduction. In Against Intellectual Monopoly (pp. 1-15). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press [URL:http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/papers/anew01.pdf].
Lessig, L. (2004). Creators. In Free Culture: How Big Media uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Strangle Creativity (pp. 21-30). New York: Penguin [URL: http://www.authorama.com/free-culture-4.html].
Snapper, J. W. (1999). On the Web, plagiarism matters more than copyright piracy. Ethics and Information Technology, 1, 127-136.