Jones in Business Line (India)Paul, · Categories: Alumni and other friends, General, Information Commons, News of News
Just took a couple of questions from a reporter at Business Line (India) about intellectual property as part of the conference build up for the “Owning the Future” Symposium. Sample questions and answers below:
1. What is the relevance of IP rights to the layman – not a scientist or an IT bureaucrat?
Every layman has an investment in IP and in innovation. Not just an upstream investment that provides reduced costs of products and increased speed of innovation, but — as Eric von Hippel details in his 2005 MIT
Press book “Democratizing Innovation” — every purchaser is a potential innovator, a part of the final and unpredictable design and redesign of products. You want to be able to use the hammer you just bought to crack
nuts as well as pound nails. You want to add features to your car or to a skateboard. You also want to add to software, to electronics and to other products and images in ways that the original designer could not have
possibly anticipated. Without legal access to the means of innovation, your choices are reduced or even erased.
2. Also comment on this slogan of the fast-growing online faction of IP skeptics, “Ideas exist in air, and that is where they should be.”
I searched for this phrase on Google and it wasn’t found. Our IP skeptics must not be making much headway with it ;-> More seriously and from a slightly US point of view, I am a Jeffersonian when it comes to ideas and
property. This phrase echoes that of Thomas Jefferson writing to Isaac McPherson in 1813 [see
http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/a1_8_8s12.html for a more lengthy quote from that letter]
“He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property.”