He puts one side of the case well. That IP costs money to develop, it\’s property because we\’ve said it should be so in order to generate more of it and thus we\’ve got to protect IP.
Especially from Chinese knock off merchants.
The thing is it is indeed only one side of the case.
We could make the argument that those copyists are so damn poor that it\’s immoral for us to insist on IP in certain areas. This is essentially what has been done with HIV/AIDS drugs. And the structure is in place for governments to be able to, essentially, void IP on drugs to treat large scale and immediate health threats.
But leave the morals aside for a moment, the rights, and think rather of real world effectiveness.
In order to properly protect IP we need the agreement of local governments, to a larger or lesser extent we also need the general agreement of the society at large.
This is true of any set of laws of course. The law in the UK is largely obeyed because it is largely supported. It tells us not to do things that most of us agree shouldn\’t be done and doesn\’t ban us from doing things which most of us think all should be allowed to do.
Where it does ban what many desire to do it\’s a joke: drugs for example. While we try to impose a total ban on production, distribution and consumption any one of us could find just about any drug within a few hours: a day at the very most.
Of course, drugs are not IP, but the analogy is close enough. In order to have effective law, the law needs to be to a large extent agreed upon and thus largely self-policing. And clearly IP law is such in parts of the world and not in others.
The difference between where it is and where it isn\’t could be, if you squint at it, marked by those places which produce IP and those that do not. No one gives a flying F about IP in Equatorial Guinea whereas they do in Cambridge.
All of which leads to a possible, reasonable, stance on IP protection, upon the insistence in law that IP must be protected. There are some places where you\’ll have to impose it with near draconian powers, as with our own drugs market. There are other places where it will be generally obeyed. So, try to impose it where it will stick and don\’t even bother to make the effort where it will not.
Poor countries that don\’t produce any of their own IP don\’t have to enforce it, rich places which do will naturally be happy to protect it.
This meets several goals: we only protect where it is possible to do so at reasonable cost. We don\’t get the lefty cries of but, but, we\’re ripping off the poor and finally, the amount of money that could be made out of poor places actually obeying IP law is so pitiful that really, why bother?
Seems like a plan to me. Enforce IP law where we can, where it makes financial sense to do so and as the poor countries become rich, as they start to have people producing IP within their own economies, they\’ll naturally be more willing to protect all IP.
Wouldn\’t take all that many people nicking the Chinese IP on rare earths (of which there is quite a lot) to get the Chinese Govt a bit more serious about protecting all IP in China.