The Political Economy of IP

Donna points to the American Enterprise Institute’s publication, The Political Economy of Intellectual Property by William Landes and Richard Posner, wherein public choice theory is applied, albeit not as a complete explanation of recent trends.

Whether the increases in the legal protection of intellectual property since 1976 have conferred net benefits on the U.S. economy is uncertain. But the political forces and ideological currents that we describe, abetted by interest-group pressures that favor originators of intellectual property over copiers, may explain the increases. An additional factor is the growth in the market for intellectual property. That growth cannot be dated to 1976; but there is no doubt that recent decades have seen a marked growth in that market, as the economies of the advanced nations shifted from “industrial” economies to “information” economies. That growth increased the potential economic rents from intellectual property rights and so may have increased the asymmetry of incentives that we have been stressing between supporters and opponents of expanded intellectual property rights.

Beating the Registration Wall

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Login [via TechDirt]

Increasingly, Web publishers, and in particular newspaper sites, are demanding that readers give up some of their personal information — like e-mail addresses, gender and salaries — in exchange for free access to their articles. The publishers say they need this information to make money from advertising. But anecdotal evidence and online chatter suggest readers are annoyed with the registration process. Some readers enter bogus information, while others are looking for ways to bypass the registration roadblocks.

Ahh – Database Patents and Deep Linking

Techdirt:Websites Who Want To Remain Bad

Sometimes you have to wonder what certain companies or organizations are thinking. A few years ago, when Ellis Island put their records online, they had a dreadful interface. A genealogist with the skill and the time, created a new, much more user friendly front end that quickly became the preferred way for many genealogists to search the site. Of course, Ellis Island then threatened to sue him to shut down the site.

Protecting Innovation, One Body At A Time?

HP memo forecasts MS patent attacks on free software

The memo — its full text is provided later in the story, along with HP’s response — briefly explains a patent cross-licensing deal between HP and Microsoft. By itself, that’s not a big deal, especially since it was sent two years ago. But the memo asserts that “Microsoft will soon be launching a patent-based legal offensive against Linux and other free software projects.” Leaders in the open source community have been warning of such attacks for some time. The memo reveals there may be very good reason for the worry.

Slashdot: HP Memo Predicts MS Patent Attacks on Open Source

Something For Siva

I’m reading Siva‘s Anarchist in the Library, and this story is like a little message from him: Downloading for Democracy

While legislators in Washington work to outlaw peer-to-peer networks, one website is turning the peer-to-peer technology back on Washington to expose its inner, secretive workings.

But isn’t offering copyright music and videos for download. The site, launched two weeks ago, has aggregated more than 600 government and court documents to make them available for download through the Kazaa, LimeWire and Soulseek P2P networks in the interest of making government more transparent and accountable.

Slashdot: Using P2P To Make Gov’t Documents Easy To Find

Update: Ernest points out that should have done their work [a little] better.

Evolution of Jobs’ Strategy

Macrovision and SunnComm court Apple for a seachange in CDs

The two big US copy protection specialists, Macrovision and SunnComm are both touting the idea that they need to become Apple iPod compliant and they might need the help of the big record labels to twist Apple’s arm into helping them.

[…] It is clear that both companies were deliberately leaking to the press in order to get their message across to Apple that they need to work together. Apple clearly isn’t so sure and has not yet responded to the overtures from the two companies.

It’s always nice to be fancied, though

Related: Dolby adds High-Efficiency AAC to MPEG 4 patent pool

Hall of Shame

More universities agree to RIAA/Napster ‘protection’ — Slashdot: RIAA Co-Opts More Universities

Cornell University, the George Washington University, Middlebury College, University of Miami, the University of Southern California and the Wright State University (Ohio) have all pledged to have Napster up and running in the near future. The schools join Penn State University and University of Rochester as Napster subscribers. That’s a grand total of eight schools in the last nine months that have agreed to become music vendors and pay an RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) tax to avoid lawsuits against their students.

There might be something noble about the schools protecting their children if it were not for the dubious circumstances surrounding these deals. None of the schools have yet to say how much they actually pay for the Napster service.

Contrast with Duke University Giving iPods To 1650 Freshmen (also Duke Gives IPods to Freshmen)