Well, yes, it is, it is

Ignorance when mixed with prejudice and wealth is a toxic combination

Which is why we should probably avoid analysis like this:

Let’s also ignore the fact that most wealth is utterly dependent on state support for its existence. Without copyright, patent and other now hopelessly biased and prejudiced intellectual property law much of this wealth would not have accumulated. Let’s also ignore then, as the FT does, that almost all this wealth results from market failure.

Intellectual property law is a response to a market failure. For, without property rights to IP, fewer than the optimal number of people would create less than an optimal amount of it.

We can, of course, echo Tonto and ask “Whose optimal, paleface?” but this is the underlying point being made.

It costs a lot to develop an idea, design, book. Once created and perfected it is trivially easy to copy. Thus those who would create are put off doing so by the difficulty of profiting from having done so. Thus we create, out of nothing, that IP. In order that people may profit, thus they have the incentive to create.

That is, IP law is a response to market failure. And if you don’t know that then you’re really not up with the basics of the subject under discussion.

But then Snippa…..

41 thoughts on “Well, yes, it is, it is”

  1. Someone should ask Spud if he would mind anyone copying his books and flogging them without paying him any royalties.

    And whether his publishers would be happy with that.

  2. ‘Let’s also ignore the fact that most wealth is utterly dependent on state support for its existence.’

    He stole that line from Obama and Elizabeth Warren.

    “You didn’t build that!”

  3. take a look at the top selling albums every year since the 80s. Around the mid-late 90s, rock albums (bought by men) started to disappear. Men got Napster and other file sharing tech. Women didn’t. Stuff like Adele and Taylor Swift still sells well.

    That said, if I published a book, I’d be more interested in the movie rights than book sales.

  4. Spudda’s never understood what IP is, or does, and he’s been resolutely impervious to correction.

    He once said that IP had no inherent value. Oh re-he-heally? Gedanken experiment.

    Build 2 identical restaurants across the street from each other. They use the same systems to sell exactly the same food at the same price. Customer service is identical. One is McD’s. The other is an unknown brand (e.g. an independent), but serving McD’s food in plain packaging.

    Which restaurant will make more money?

    Obviously the McD’s will make more money, and that delta there is the value add of the branding, which is nothing more than the trademarks and copyrights which define the brand. And this is why franchisees are willing to plonk down Mucho Dinero to licence that lovely IP (and get the product and tech support) rather than start an independent fast food restaurant.

  5. Extracts from Spud’s 2006 CV as a reminder…..

    San Serif Print Promotions Limited, European ***Licence Holder*** of Trivial Pursuit, 1985 – 1991(founder director, then consultant)

    Eireann Game Manufacturing Limited (founding managing director) 1986 – 1991 (manufacturer ofgame boards for Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary andother games based in Limerick, Ireland) Originally independent – later owned by Serif –and my solution to the problem of ***manufacturing the 4 fold Trivial Pursuit board in Europe***. I was responsible for creating the company and establishing it in Ireland in 4 months, from first visit to product going downthe line.

    Infernet Limited (now whereonearth.com Limited)– CFO – 1997 to 1999 – Internet company developing geo-spatial data-basing techniques forsearch engines Helped create the concept of whereonearth with CEO Steve Packard and joined him on the board to guide early fund raising and the ***purchase of critical subsidiaries to lock in the IPR that has been the basis of this company’s development*** before making way for full time staff. The company was sold to Yahoo in 2005 for £28million (most of which benefited the venturecapitalists)

  6. Murphy is right.There can be no market without peace, law and order, trusted contacts and so on.
    I`m not sure it is right to call these expressions of a civilised society “The State”, certainly all the basics are in place in Norman England and develop quite independently of the explosion of public functions that arrived with universal suffrage.
    Still, No harm in midnight the swivel eyed Free Marketeers of how dependent capitalism is on collective consent and society. Amongst such social and legal frameworks are protections of ownership of all kinds including intellectual property.
    I think we can debate how far ownership can go , should a private individual own the Nations Mountains and Lake, should Landowners be allowed to act as they please ….obviously not , and for how long should patented drugs, let us say, remain at a higher cost than they can be supplied .
    We must reward work and genius but rewarding the one who happened to get there first with an endless monopoly is too much ownership.
    Of course the great underlying fraud of global capitalism is that it seeks to evade collective accountability whilst enjoying the protections of collective consent and order. It is , by its nature , in this sense parasitical on civilisation

    Perhaps what was required was some effort to capture the gains of the market, international free trade within some similarly International political and jurisdictional framework … perhaps the most advanced Nation so the world might gather together do such a thing ?
    Gosh that would be a good idea , I just hope some morons don`t screw it up by blaming the darkies for the common cold and take us all backwards …….

  7. Ignorance when mixed with prejudice and wealth is a toxic combination

    Capt. Potato scores two out of three and is the palpitating fat-necked embodiment of toxicity.

  8. A while back, I managed to engage Spuddo over at his place over the fact that he thought that you registered a copyright. He squirmed and tried to re-define “register” to mean also not registering. Before banning me, natch.

    It’s people like him who fall for the legal but highly misleading private copyright register scams which are of dubious legal value.

  9. We must reward work and genius but rewarding the one who happened to get there first with an endless monopoly is too much ownership.

    What? Who is this we and why should we reward anyone. The reward is that the paying public stump up their hard-earned. Of which around 3% of the added value goes to the inventor and the rest to the public. And who or what has ever had an endless monopoly on their invention? And what does getting there first mean? As if invention or discovery were just a matter of time and anyone could get lucky and stumble upon something. Shit, I wish I’d happened upon Microsoft before Bill.
    So much bollocks in one sentence.

  10. Dennis, He Who Has A Degree In Economics

    Ignorance when mixed with prejudice and envy is a toxic combination

    There, fixed it.

  11. “We must reward work and genius but rewarding the one who happened to get there first with an endless monopoly is too much ownership.”

    Yeah. As in “Jimmy Page was 27 when he wrote ‘Stairway to Heaven’ but I could play it when I was 21”

    Newmania, you really are a nob.

  12. Dennis: Oppressor, Warmonger, Capitalist and Consumer of Petroleum Products

    Without copyright, patent and other now hopelessly biased and prejudiced intellectual property law much of this wealth would not have accumulated.

    A quick glance at the 15 richest United States citizens reveals that nine (Bezos and ex-wife, Buffett, Bloomberg, Koch brothers, Walton family) made their fortunes in a manner that had nothing to do with intellectual property law. We are talking Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, Bloomberg, Walmart and Koch Industries. You could make an argument that Zuckerberg (Facebook) deserves inclusion, as Facebook was initially nothing more than improved social networking services, of which there are numerous competitors still in existence.

    Another quick glance at the richest from the parts of the world that don’t matter gives up names such as Bernard Arnault (retail), Amanico Ortega (retail), Carlos Slim (telecom). The last time I checked, the Hinduja Brothers were the richest Brits (conglomerate).

  13. Dennis, CPA to the Gods

    We must reward work and genius but rewarding the one who happened to get there first with an endless monopoly is too much ownership.

    Spoken like the loser you are. No doubt you have a career in Scrounging, just like Murphy. Do you also have a string of career, business and marital failures as well, just like Murphy?

  14. Andrew C
    Copyright of Stairway to Heaven will expire 70 years after Mr Page dies and it surprises me, not at all, that you are the sort of mateless pimply loser who wanted to learn how to play Stairway To Heaven ….. ( I suppose you moved onto the anti-immigrant song quickly )

  15. Bloke in North Dorset

    @Dennis (he of many names

    Carlos Slim was aided by in his wealth accumulation by having a telecoms monopoly, which he was accused of abusing, in Mexico for a long time.

  16. Newmania

    You seem to be trying (extremely poorly as usual) to claim that the EU is the basis for regulating the excesses of transnational corporations. But the EU is not the primary body for this. The latest attempts to bring taxation of TNCs into the 21st century are being led by the OECD (base erosion and profit shifting). In the same way that the original double taxation treaties (Permanent Establishment etc) also were OECD creations. The EU doesn’t do this. The OECD was also responsible for raising standards on anti-bribery laws and a slew of other activities.

    Nor has the EU shown itself able to regulate other excesses – the entire VW diesel scandal took place under their noses and it required the US to take action before they moved.

  17. Copyright of Stairway to Heaven will expire 70 years after Mr Page dies

    Once copyright expires, the only people who make money from the work are the publishers/distributors who are then free to distribute.

    If copyright were shortened, it would only be those corporations who would profit, not the estate of the author.

    It’s funny you coming down on the side of publishing corporations instead of the artist and their descendants simply through lack of knowledge and jealousy 😀

  18. @Newmania

    It surprises me not at all that a humorless moron such as yourself didn’t recognise that as a line from The Comic Strip “Bad News” episode.

  19. I see Ritchie is now getting money from the Fair Tax Mark who are in turn getting funding from Luminate (set up by the founder of ebay). However, the details of the funding are not on the FTM or Luminate’s website.

  20. …….and I am not remotely suprised that you sit around with your equally tedious friends repeating wanky old lines everyone else has forgotten (you have crossed the thin line between stupid and clever )

  21. It’s an interesting question. Would we really have much less innovation or works of art if we didn’t have patent or copyright laws? People have been inventing stuff or creating art for a long time. Would singers stop singing, writers stop writing, and actors stop playing? Would tinkerers quit tinkering?

    Certainly, the government sometimes grants patents it probably shouldn’t – one clicking shopping for example. Sometimes attorneys working for sophisticated investors in an idea will try to ensure that they patent not only the innovation, but any other means they can think of that might duplicate what the innovation does in another manner. That to some extent can be regarded as using patent laws to stifle innovation. I do have some sympathy for patenting drugs given that the government makes it so difficult and expensive to bring one to market.

    Aren’t we really telling innovators and artists (at least those who can afford the legal fees) that “you’re special and we’ll protect you in ways we don’t protect others”?

    I think like a lot of what are really political things, the concept has some basic merit but probably gets widely abused.

  22. Having worked for a while under the wing of a major semiconductor company providing technical advice when the company sought damages from others for patent infringement, I’d note that at least the US Patent Office had for a very very long time a bizarre means of determining whether an “invention” passed muster as a patentable thang.

    To be worthy of a patent, a thing must be original (new), non-obvious, and useful.

    Original seems to mean “I couldn’t find a patent which claimed exactly this”

    Non-obvious was never tested

    Useful was never tested

    As a result, an horrendous pile of merde was patented.

    Further, it was often observed that when Fred of company X submitted an invention for approval (in a specific domain in which multiple competing companies were engaged; for example, a new and cunning means of deciding which way in a multiway cache we should choose to place a new datum, given that all ways already had data in them) it often turned out that Rob, Jim, Bert, Alfonso, Chen and several others submitted more or less the same proposal within a 3-6 month window – without having sight of Fred’s proposal. In a sensible world, this would strongly suggest that Fred’s idea was ‘obvious’ and should be rejected. But historically, he got the patent.

    So, yes, there’s been much wrong with the practice of patents. And the continual creeping of copyright protection into the indefinite future seems a Very Bad Thing, too.

    In the US, at least, these sins have been somewhat modified by the new practices that you can indeed – as always – sue for damages for patent infringement. But these days I believe you can only get a sum of money related to your actual damages – you have to show you lost money because those swine stole your idea, implemented it, and cost you sales of the widget you were selling which incorporated the invention. This isn’t easy to show 🙂

  23. “Newmania

    (you have crossed the thin line between stupid and clever )”

    Obviously crossing paths with you as you crossed the line between clever and stupid.

  24. “Ignorance when mixed with prejudice and wealth is a toxic combination”

    Well, at least he only has two out of the three.

  25. Misses out the balancing act that patents corrected the other failure – loss of knowledge via trade secrets (Coade Stone, Stradivarius etc). In turn that created the environment for incremental improvements on others works either over time or via cross licensing. Copyright is about correcting the incentive to produce and protecting the monetisation of dissemination, patents much less so or at least more complex balance of rights to address under investment offsetting monopoly rights with public disclosure and promotion of innovation and research

  26. Without the State there would be no-one to stop others stealing your wealth, which is why the State should be able to steal your wealth.

  27. @BoM4 November 15, 2019 at 1:12 pm

    +1

    Napster (1999) and now torrents are a beautiful example of Women & Tech-Phobia

    In Napster’s short life I acquired .mp3 versions of everything I wanted from Classical to Heavy Metal

  28. Incidentally I just sat down at my Keyboards and played Stairway to Heaven at first (ish) attempt by ear. I only vaguely know it but it pretty much writes itself . If you are playing in A minor the bass line goes down chromatically
    A Gsh G Fsh F , the chords are A min E mj C ( g bass) D (fsf bass) and the the bom bom bom is just G Amin. The middle 8 is pom pom C D mj etc.

    So that’s why everyone plays it – its easy

  29. In Napster’s short life I acquired .mp3 versions of everything I wanted from Classical to Heavy Metal

    With torrents I now have FLACs of everything, and quite a few 24-96’s which are fantastic. The digital formats are getting better and better…

    (And yes I’m clearly a Male nerd)

  30. “Newmania

    Incidentally I just sat down at my Keyboards and played Stairway to Heaven….

    So that’s why everyone plays it – its easy”

    Lots of things are easy when all you have to do is copy. I could sit down in front of a computer and copy out all the Harry Potter books and claim it was easy to write international best-selling books.

    The hard part is writing it down the very first time it is written.

    That’s why we have copyright.

  31. When threads descend into discussions of IP… Oh dear…

    Sometimes attorneys working for sophisticated investors in an idea will try to ensure that they patent not only the innovation, but any other means they can think of that might duplicate what the innovation does in another manner. That to some extent can be regarded as using patent laws to stifle innovation.

    No it isn’t – it’s the patent attorney doing his basic job of ensuring that there’s no obvious work-around. E.g. in the actual embodiment invention, the widget turns clockwise then anticlockwise to get the swonnicles revolving. Only an idiot claims it that way, it should be claimed as “rotating in a first direction then in a second direction opposite to the first direction”. That’s not abuse, it’s protecting the broadest possible concept of the invention. Who wants to disclose their invention to the world (the quid of the patenting system) in return for anyone making a simple modification being able to make a similar product without the same R&D costs?

    There’s also the legal concept of infringement by equivalence, which goes beyond a literal reading of the claims to encompass obvious equivalents. However treatment varies by country and it can’t be relied upon.

    Aren’t we really telling innovators and artists (at least those who can afford the legal fees) that “you’re special and we’ll protect you in ways we don’t protect others”?

    No, it’s recognising that intellectual property is indeed property, and is giving it similar protections as to what is given to physical property, as far as is feasible with intangibles. Without copyright, the only people to make any money off creative works would be the distributors and not the writers / artists, which is the case now with off-copyright works, where the big publishers with high volumes are the only ones making money off of e.g. Jane Austen.

    To be worthy of a patent, a thing must be original (new), non-obvious, and useful.

    Original seems to mean “I couldn’t find a patent which claimed exactly this”

    Non-obvious was never tested

    Useful was never tested

    I can tell you from experience that these days non-obviousness is very much tested by the USPTO, and they have a bizarre, backwards way of reasoning it that makes no technical sense and can be very, very difficult to overcome if the examiner is being ornery.

    Useful is assumed for anything technical.

    Further, it was often observed that when Fred of company X submitted an invention for approval (in a specific domain in which multiple competing companies were engaged; for example, a new and cunning means of deciding which way in a multiway cache we should choose to place a new datum, given that all ways already had data in them) it often turned out that Rob, Jim, Bert, Alfonso, Chen and several others submitted more or less the same proposal within a 3-6 month window – without having sight of Fred’s proposal. In a sensible world, this would strongly suggest that Fred’s idea was ‘obvious’ and should be rejected. But historically, he got the patent.

    It’s called “independent invention” and is it really surprising that people in cutting edge companies working on the same subject-matter come up with similar improvements at similar times, since the state of the art from which they are working is the same? I see it all the time. There’s also the issue of cross-pollination when people move jobs.

    If we were to take your suggestion to the academic world, surely you would consider it a sign of obviousness if 2 PhD candidates working on the same cutting-edge research but unconnected to each other came out with similar results, so neither should get a PhD cos 2 people coming independently to the same results based on the same starting point is a strong suggestion of obviousness?

    Consumers would be screwed if anyone could call their product iphone.

    Yes. That’s the point of trademarks – they serve to ensure that consumers can find exactly the same product back.

  32. abacab
    November 15, 2019 at 2:47 pm

    I think the genius is getting confused because copyright does have to be registered in the USA but doesn’t in the UK.

    In the US, for example, a film has to be re-registered every, if I recall correctly, 27 years. If that is overlooked – which is frequently true for films which were made by long-gone small companies – then they fall into the public domain. It does sometimes happen with major studio films which is why every tin-pot channel can show Charade without paying a penny as often as they like.

    It’s a Wonderful Life wouldn’t have became such an Xmas institution in the US if it hadn’t fallen into the public domain so that every tiny regional TV station could play it for free every December.

  33. @ Newmania
    ” peace, law and order, trusted contacts and so on.” were all present in the last years of Alfred and most of the reign of Aethelstan. They were not inventions of William the Bastard who spent decades in warfare against the inhabitants of England (and even against those of Normandy after his eldest son, Robert, rebelled).
    If you want to quote history do *try* to get some of it right.

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