Shoulders of giants for rent

Did you know that US and EU copyright laws now extends creator’s rights to their deaths plus 70 years…effectively perpetuity? Or that Canadians enjoys cheaper meds than the USA, due to Canada’s anti-pricefixing laws? I’ve been reading Boing Boing‘s Cory Doctorow (and former Torontonian) argue for reform in today’s intellectual property laws for a few months now, and he’s always impressed me in how he makes his case.

If you ever wanted the 5-Minute University on Intellectual Property, look no further than Wired’s colour centerfolds on trends and statistics in piracy, medicine, genetics, and my current topic de force, open source.

Doctorow feels that current IP restrictions stifles innovation, and it’s hard to disagree in this age of idiotic software patents and the RIAA’s intimidating lawsuits. He sums it up quite well in this letter, where he points out that the self-righteous copyright owners of today were the pirates of yesteryear:

“…filmmakers (who enthusiastically violated Edison’s film patents), broadcasters (who played records without permission or payment), cablecasters (who pirated free-to-air signals for their networks) and even hybrid entertainment/electronics companies (like Sony, whose piratical VCR was characterized by the motion-picture people as the certain death of the film industry) are all standing shoulder to shoulder in the fight against programmers and ordinary citizens who have, once again, discovered a better way to distribute and reproduce creative works.

“It’s no surprise that these pirates of the entertainment industry want to pull the ladder up behind them and dog the hatch. After all, the traditional role of inventors has been to create massive new revenue opportunities for the entertainment industry, and the traditional response of the entertainment companies has been to seek legislative relief from those opportunities….

“In a world where 80 percent of the music ever recorded isn’t available for sale
anywhere, the P2P networks have revived what is, quite literally, the largest
library of human creativity ever assembled.”