September 30, 2004
IPac + Intellectual Property
I just found out about a new political action committee named IPac. It's a nonpartisan group designed to promote and fund government officials (i.e. congressmen and senators) who are standing up for intellectual property freedoms.
This is something I feel is very important because the entire basis of our species' survival and success depends on the sharing and building of ideas. Unfortunately, the current political system and environment favors the selfish interests of large corporations who leverage intellectual property as a monopolistic source of power and wealth generation. This is exactly what stockholders want because it allows a corporation increased revenue growth. However, this comes directly at the expense of our civilization.
As a species, we have become so successful and been able to adapt to problems because the individuals work together. When someone invented the wheel, or the combustion engine, the entire species benefitted because everyone was given the opportunity to make use of that technology at no cost. Now, that is no longer possible. Even worse, ideas in general are being assigned costs and ownership. Ideas like using electronic data transfer to provide real-time analysis of financial data, or algorithms to solve business problems. This is completely selfish and detrimental to the success and survival of our species.
Imagine having to pay huge amounts of capital up-front before you can invent or implement an idea necessary for the development of something new. Or, even worse, having to do everything from scratch, wasting time and resources, because you cannot afford the licensing and royalty fees demanded by those who came before you. Science would become stagnant.
Some links for thought:
Letter to the Patent Office from Prof. Donald Knuth. Knuth is one of the foremost persons in the field of computer science. His words are very important because of the concept he has on ideas (concepts I agree with).
A Primer in Modern Intellectual Property Law. Not in particular the quote by Thomas Jefferson in his 1813 letter to Isaac McPherson. His quote about the difficulty between things worth patents and those that do not is a problem I recognize. I do wish people would place the good of the many above their own desires for financial gain.