defending the right to innovate
Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.
Copyright Notice: We don't think much of copyright, so you can do what you want with the content on this blog. Of course we are hungry for publicity, so we would be pleased if you avoided plagiarism and gave us credit for what we have written. We encourage you not to impose copyright restrictions on your "derivative" works, but we won't try to stop you. For the legally or statist minded, you can consider yourself subject to a Creative Commons Attribution License.
The Supreme Court decided Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission this week link here. It declares that corporations and other groups have the same rights as live humans. The left considers this a great defeat which will lead to a flood of corporate money in elections to the detriment of the average voter while the right only sees a justified extension of corporations and other groups freedom to speak and spend money to affect political races.
Professor Juan Cole in his blog, Informed Comment, asks a sensible question: Does this decision really change the amount of corporate money in political campaigns? The cynic might note that both parties seem to be captive of one interest group or another. Another blogger noted that TV time for political ads is already fully spoken for.
There is some irony, however, when one notes that both Chief Justice Roberts and Associate Justice Alito carefully claimed to be judicial conservatives and would stick with precedent. In fact, they are turning out to be radicals of the right. Stay tuned to learn the new surprises they have for us.
Scientific American has a gloss in this month's issue on the decline of U.S. broadband access over the first decade of the 21st century (no link provided because access is limited to paying subscribers):
At the turn of the millennium, the U.S. had some of the best broadband access in the world. It reached more homes, and at a lower price, than most every other industrial country. Ten years later the U.S. is a solid C-minus student, ranking slightly below average on nearly every metric.
The reason for this decline can be traced the the FCC's decision (under the stewardship of Bush administration appointees) to exempt the telecoms and cable companies from the open access provision of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which forced the local telephone monopolies to grant access on reasonable terms to any and all long-distance telephone service providers. The result of this act was a dramatic reduction in long-distance phone costs, and a corresponding decline in profits for the telecoms.
The exemption the FCC put in place for broadband services has had the direct effect of putting the U.S. in a distinctly inferior position on broadband access across a variety of metrics, most notably download speeds and cost of service. But Verizon and Comcast love it. With the FCC now under new management, it looks as though it is poised to rescind the previous rules and bring open access back to internet services.
An interesting lawsuit complaint as reported by CourthouseNews.com:
Andy Warhol's estate is behind an "insidious" conspiracy to monopolize the authentication and sale of the late artist's work, according to a complaint in Federal Court. Susan Shaer claims that the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board routinely defaces authentic Warhol artworks with a "DENIED" stamp, thereby creating "artificial scarcity" and inflating the value of the art owned by the foundation.
Read more HERE.
Rather a delicious irony for those familiar with the broader message behind much of Warhol's work.
An executive at Lilly, Bernard Munos, has written a very revealing and candid article in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery link here.
The article, "Lessons from 60 years of pharmaceutical innovation" confirms what many already know - that the productivity of the pharmaceutical R&D enterprise is declining and has been for some time. Stated differently, the cost per new molecular entity has increased rapidly. This has occurred despite mergers and consolidation in the industry, changes in R&D management structures and changes to the technologies used to discover new drugs.
He also admits that "in many organizations, short-term priorities encourage marginal innovation, which provides more reliable returns on investment, at the expense of major change." He recognizes, in other words, that the current incentive system rewards the development of me-too drugs over novel therapies. Finally, he admits that alternatives to the traditional patent system, including prizes, may be required to boost R&D productivity.
Very encouraging words!
I was recently reminded of "The Reluctant Anarchist," a wonderful piece by the great columnist Joseph Sobran about his intellectual journey from conservatism to strict constitutionalism to anarchist--thanks to Rothbard and Hoppe. Highly recommended.
Note: I post this on this blog because the proprietor assured me once that this blog is not only about IP but all forms of monopoly. And it is the state that is the biggest and most dangerous monopolist of all--in fact, the only true monopoly. It is the source of the monopoly known as intellectual property; without the state, IP could not exist. Those who oppose IP but favor the state remind me of members of skeptics groups--those who scoff at ESP, astrology, and divining rods--but who are still religious. Those who oppose IP but favor the state should engage in some reflection.
Once again we get to watch the advance of monopoly with the planned acquisition of NBC Universal by Comcast. One needs to read the details to see the full power of the deal link here. It turns out to be about a lot more than NBC broadcasting as NBC Universal owns several more cable companies and content in addition to the NBC network. GE would retain 49 percent of the joint venture, so we will have two giants in cahoots.
"Almost one in four cable subscribers in the U.S. is a Comcast customer. NBC Universal owns cable networks such as Telemundo, MSNBC and Bravo, TV shows such as Jay Leno's, regional stations such as Washington's WRC (Channel 4), and Universal movie studios," writes the Post's Cecilia King.
She notes that the "merger will be a test for how regulators will deal with the Internet video market, which doesn't fall directly under the FCC's jurisdiction. But the agency is exploring competition in online video, and it could use the merger to implement conditions that would set guidelines for the burgeoning market."
We can now see the folly of our deficient planning and regulation of radio and TV, which has permitted the growth of such giants and the extraction of maximum revenues from the public. Video over the internet promises to break what is a monopoly on distribution but will it be allowed to happen? Don't hold your breath.
Had we the luxury of starting over, we should rather have separated the means of distribution, the pipes, from control of the content. We might also have opted for local government control of the pipes, in the process creating a bilateral monopoly to exert some control of content fees.
Now we face a new situation. In time, video over the internet might destroy the hold of the cable companies over the pipes, but the outlook isn't good with the cable companies providing internet access and the only competitor in most places being the phone company, another congenital monopolist.
Just to give you an idea of how radical the IP maximalists have become, check out these excerpts from today's Supreme Court oral argument in the Bilksi case (which may help decide the scope of patent law in terms of what can or can not be patented):
JUSTICE GINSBURG: But you say you would say tax avoidance methods are covered, just as the process here is covered. So an estate plan, tax avoidance, how to resist a corporate takeover, how to choose a jury, all of those are patentable?
In the world view of the IP maximalist, even a method for "picking a jury" is patentable and subject to a monopoly. Imagine that you are a criminal defendant and your attorney has strategies for picking jurors that might be favorable to your arguments. Unfortunately however, another high-priced law firm which regularly makes large political donations and is located on the opposite coast has a "patent" on it. It refuses to let you choose the jurors in the manner you wish without forking over a fee which you can't afford (assuming they decide to license it to you at all....).
Very scary stuff.
Most Recent Comments
at 01/09/2020 09:14 AM by Anonymous
at 12/18/2019 03:10 PM by SYSSY
IIPA thinks open source equals piracy rerwerwerwer
at 07/08/2019 11:35 PM by WolfLarsen Larsen
IIPA thinks open source equals piracy Thank you for this great
at 06/21/2019 02:13 PM by spam name
Questions and Challenges For Defenders of the Current Copyright Regime Eu acho que os direitos autorais da invenção ou projeto devem ser
at 05/11/2019 09:15 PM by Marcelo
IIPA thinks open source equals piracy https://essaywritingsolutions.co.uk/
at 04/07/2019 11:22 PM by WolfLarsen
at 04/07/2019 11:21 PM by WolfLarsen
IIPA thinks open source equals piracy rwerwewre
at 04/07/2019 11:20 PM by WolfLarsen
at 02/05/2019 07:44 AM by Anonymous
Questions and Challenges For Defenders of the Current Copyright Regime It is one of the finest websites I have stumbled upon. It is not only well developed, but has good
at 06/19/2018 10:36 PM by Michael Jones
Killing people with patents I'm not really commenting the post, but rather asking if this blog is going to make a comeback
at 01/09/2018 03:46 AM by Anonymous
The right to rub smooth using a hardened steel tool with ridges Finally got around to looking at the comments, sorry for delay... Replying to Stephan: I'm sorry
at 05/08/2015 08:35 AM by Dan Dobkin
Let's See: Pallas, Pan, Patents, Persephone, Perses, Poseidon, Prometheus... Seems like a kinda bizarre proposal to me. We just need to abolish the patent system, not replace
at 04/10/2015 10:44 AM by Stephan Kinsella
The right to rub smooth using a hardened steel tool with ridges I'm a bit confused by this--even if "hired to invent" went away, that would just change the default
at 04/10/2015 10:34 AM by Stephan Kinsella
Do we need a law? @ Alexander Baker: So basically, if I copy parts of 'Titus Andronicus' to a webpage without
at 01/08/2015 08:58 PM by Sheogorath
Do we need a law? The issue is whether the crime is punished not who punishes it. If somebody robs our house we do
at 11/17/2014 04:48 AM by David K. Levine
Do we need a law? 1. Plagiarism most certainly is illegal, it is called "copyright infringement". One very famous
at 10/29/2014 10:49 AM by Alexander Baker
Yet another proof of the inutility of copyright. The 9/11 Commission report cost $15,000,000 to produce, not counting the salaries of the authors.
at 09/20/2014 03:19 PM by Alexander Baker
WKRP In Cincinnati - Requiem For A Masterpiece P.S. The link to Amazon's WKRP product page:
at 06/28/2014 10:03 AM by Doris
WKRP In Cincinnati - Requiem For A Masterpiece Hopefully some very good news. Shout! Factory is releasing the entire series of WKRP in Cincinnati,
at 06/28/2014 10:00 AM by Doris