I had the pleasure of attending a Bell University Labs lecture entitled, “Intellectual Property, Innovation and Efficiency in Information Economies” hosted by the Professor William Melody. Melody is, among other things, a former FCC member in the late 1960s and a visiting law professor at the University of Toronto. The seminar was specifically hosted by the Centre for Innovation Law and Policy. And yes, I’ve been slacking, this lecture was on October 20th.
He started off by telling the audience that eventually, the only economy left will be the “e-economy”, driven by market liberalization and intellectual property laws. Regulation has not always lagged behind technology; the introduction of deregulation policies has been the driving force behind many of the market’s innovations. Several decisive laws put in place since the US Reform Act in the 1960s has, in addition to breaking up AT&T, have broken down barriers to entry and unbundled services. The result was that the layers of infrastructure, hardware, protocol, software, and content has been peeled apart, stimulated competition at each layer.
Today, regulation has been brought back to table, as the various information technologies begin to converge. Monopolies, such as the ILECs, IBM, Microsoft and others have manifested themselves. Meanwhile, intellectual property rights have become more restrictive than ever. Meanwhile, the ITU and WSIS have been slow to turn any matching policies into actual rules to abide by. Melody urges a reassessment of current laws and policies to address these issues.
While Melody does not have a technical background (he didn’t distinguish between infrastructured-based VoIP solutions with VoIP Internet applications). Intellectual property issues were not discussed in detail either. However, this lecture provided an interesting insight from a law academia point of view.