The copyright/patent law conundrum in the Internet economy

21Aug09

For some time now (much longer than I’ve been following the space, I’m sure), the tech blogosphere has been vibrating with a really robust debate about the proper role of intellectual property protection in the age of “infinite goods” on the Internet.

At the risk of gross oversimplification (and irritating the hell out of the IP lawyers I worked with), the gist of the two sides’ positions seems to be along the lines of:

  1. Copyrights, patents and the like are necessary protection to allow innovators time to recoup their investment.  The absence of such would inhibit innovation.
  2. In its current form, IP protection actually serves as a barrier to innovation.  The “patent system is fundamentally broken and clearly hinders innovation much more significantly than it helps it.”

I’m neither a lawyer nor a technology inventor, so I don’t have a dog in this fight, but I do have many friends who are stakeholders across the spectrum — some who perceive that the current system helps them (and innovators generally), and some who perceive the opposite.

For those interested, today’s Techdirt blog post offers a reading list that seems fairly comprehensive.  You decide.

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