Against Monopoly

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.


What do we pay our embassies for?

According to some of the documents posted on Wikileaks, to lobby, nudge, pressure, threaten ... (I let you pick the right one) foreign governments into adopting stricter "IP" laws, in order to "protect" our "strategic interests" in their countries.



Wow. I don't think there's a single blog I regularly read that hasn't been touched in some way by Wikigate.
I like the part where the dispatches keep pointing out that the greatest pressure in Spain is coming from local businesses, not the U.S. government. Always nice to see balanced reporting on this blog.
As a long ago diplomat, I had the duty of pressing the Korean government to enforce our laws on copyright, patents, and trademarks. I personally drew the line when it involved poor and petty merchants selling running shoes and knockoffs of trademarked clothing near our military bases; we were just pushing little guys around for little benefit to our businessmen. Now of course, the Koreans want to enforce their IP--and they have some, unlike in my day.

I might have rebelled against this, but it was my duty. I imagine that most of our diplomats have no doubts about pushing for enforcing our law; they have little or no background on the other side of the issue and our businessmen expect them to.

Boycott Amazon and Paypal! Long live leakers of State secrets!
John Wrote: "Now of course, the Koreans want to enforce their IP". What we are attempting to do will only come back an hurt us in the end.

China Wrests Supercomputer Title From U.S. The New York Times wrote: "And typically, research centers with large supercomputers are magnets for top scientific talent, adding significance to the presence of the machines well beyond just cranking through calculations."

What China Seeks in Chesapeake Shale Deal The New York Times wrote: "Like the other deals, China's investment in the Texas oil patch is not necessarily about securing oil and natural gas for its own people. ... This latest deal with China seems to be no exception. The Chinese will be able to learn the techniques used to find and exploit shale deposits on their own so they are not beholden to foreign energy companies operating on their soil. ... The deal could also be considered by some to be a security risk. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, the interagency committee authorized to review transactions that could result in control of American corporations by foreign companies, could block the deal if the committee thinks it could harm national security. While the deal would not give China control of Chesapeake or even the shale project, the transfer of technology and the presence of the Chinese state in the American energy sector may be considered by the committee to be too risky to sign off on." (emphasis added)

The reason I highlighted "security risk", is that we need to realize that our orgy of deficit spending will mean that countries, such as China, could simply buy our so-called intellectual property that we vainly attempting to lock-up, In summary our attempts to lock-up so-called intellectual property is a losing proposition and self-damaging.

Steve R. @12/05/2010 05:45 AM:

"In summary our attempts to lock-up so-called intellectual property is a losing proposition and self-damaging."

Absolutely. Rather than trying to slow the release of information, for example, about nuclear weapons, which has not worked (even though the U.S. maintains a near monopoly on most nuclear weapons types and only Russia has nearly the sophistication of U.S. weapons), we should publish everything we know about nuclear weapons so that any nation with the financial capability can produce both fission and fusion weapons. After all, we have only prevented most of the world from obtaining nuclear weapons for about 65 years. Obviously it is not working.

Oh, as for the self-damaging part, I am trying to figure that part out. It would seem that keeping, say, Iran from learning how to make sophisticated nuclear weapons would be beneficial to us, rather than self-damaging, but maybe I am missing something.

John Bennett @12/04/2010 01:40 PM:

I have no idea how long ago you were a diplomat in South Korea. I was there from 1976-1977 when the Koreans were making cheap copies of whatever they could make. The quality was poor. American products were prized for their quality and innovation.

I was again in South Korea from 1987 to 1988. I worked closely with Korean manufacturer Daewoo. One of the things that the South Korean government said in the 1980s that struck a deep chord with me was regarding copying, innovation and invention. The South Korean government said that if their best capability was to copy the products of others, then South Korea would forever be lagging the rest of the world. The South Korean government believed that the best way to change from a country of copiers to a country of inventors was to place more emphasis on protection of intellectual property rights, specifically, patent rights.

I think we have seen the results. South Korea embraced intellectual property rights and South Korean companies, especially electronics companies, took over the invention lead from Japanese companies. Today Samsung is a world leader in invention and innovation and is given high marks against their former Japanese competition.

People seem to somehow think that the U.S. has "forced" many countries to accept stronger IP. That belief is generally true when it comes to copyrights and trademarks. Certainly South Korea was reluctant to accept stronger copyright laws and copyright enforcement in South Korea is still relatively weak. However, South Korea more than embraced patent laws because both the South Korean government and South Korean industry recognized that patent rights were one way to give inventors and inventing companies more incentive to invent rather than just make copies. South Korea was not "forced" into accepting stronger patent laws; they wanted them.

China is another country that took on patent laws quite willingly. The Chinese government laid the groundwork in the the 1970s when they said that government policy should find a way to reward invention because invention was critical to the future of China (FYI - China recognized the lack of invention and the need to get more of it than South Korea did, but China was much slower to create a patent system). Note that this groundwork was during the time that the only diplomatic contact the U.S. and China was to try and improve diplomatic relations. China reviewed the patent systems of the Asian tigers and realized that each time one of the Asian tigers adopted a patent system that invention exploded. China implemented a patent system in 1985 (because they wanted one, not because the U.S. "forced" them to accept one) and, surprise, invention exploded.

The New York Times writes: "In an interview with Fox News on Tuesday, Sen. Joe Lieberman suggested that the U.S. Department of Justice should charge Julian Assange with espionage and said that federal prosecutors should conduct a "very intensive inquiry" into the question of whether or not news organizations had committed a crime by publishing leaked documents obtained and distributed by WikiLeaks.

According to a transcript of the interview, Mr. Lieberman, the chairman of the Senate's Homeland Security Committee, was asked by the Fox anchor Jenna Lee, "are other media outlets that have posted what WikiLeaks has put out there also culpable in this, and could be charged with something?""

Lieberman seems to resurrecting McCarthyism. Soon we may have a "House Senate Committee on Un-American Activities"


On a more personal and serious note, one of the charges alleges that Julian Assange had unprotected sex with a woman who was asleep. That hardly seems consensual. If the allegation is true, that seems pretty sleazy. Independent of his other activities, Julian Assange needs to answer these allegations.

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