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A new economy, or a new product from the old economy?

From: Russell McOrmond <russell _-at-_ flora.ca>
To: No DMCA in Canada <canada-dmca-opponents (at) flora.org>
Date: Tue, 14 Aug 2001 22:09:52 -0400 (EDT)


  I am looking for feedback on this section of my draft submission.  I am
trying to introduce the idea that there are differing business models in a
new economy, and that "Intellectual Property" is just one - potentially
outdated - model.


From: <http://russell.flora.org/drafts/copyright-2001.html#new-economy>
(Note: HTML version contains many links)


  A new economy, or a new product from the old economy?
  
   This copyright review process is intended to "ensure that the
   Copyright Act remains among the most modern and progressive in the
   world, as promised in the January 2001 Speech from the Throne."
   (Copyright reform introduction web-page).
   
   Further, the introduction to A Framework for Copyright Reform
   indicates:
   
     The federal government is committed to ensuring that Canada's
     copyright regime remains among the most modern and progressive in
     the world. The objectives to be met through the reform process are:
     * to create opportunities for Canadians in the new economy;
     * to stimulate the production of cultural content and diversity of
       choices for Canadians;
     * to encourage a strong Canadian presence on the Internet; and,
     * to enrich learning opportunities for Canadians.
       
   In trying to achieve this goal, some basic assumptions about what the
   purpose of the Copyright Act is, who it should be serving, and what
   would be considered modern in the face of an ongoing transition from a
   primarily Industrial economy to the unknowns of the future Information
   economy.
   
   If one goes to the website of the the World Intellectual Property
   Organization's website and reads their About WIPO they indicate:
   
     The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is an
     international organization dedicated to promoting the use and
     protection of works of the human spirit. These works - intellectual
     property - are expanding the bounds of science and technology and
     enriching the world of the arts.
     
   This organization, which Canada has signed treated with and which
   Canada seems to be taking direction from, is introducing a new set of
   assumptions. These assumptions are that intellectual works should
   automatically be thought of as Intellectual Property.
   
   The phrase "Intellectual Property" is a highly politically motivated
   phrase, biasing towards a very specific narrow interpretation of a
   number of related laws such as the Copyright, Patent, Trademark and
   other acts. This phrase pushes use of an analogy to property that many
   disagree with, and it pre-assumes that the future intellectual economy
   will be based on the property-focused models from the industrial era.
   
   To read opposing viewpoints one can first go to the origins of
   copyright in the United States, "The Founders' Constitution" (Article
   1, Section 8, Clause 8, Document 12), and read a letter from Thomas
   Jefferson to Isaac McPherson which suggests:
   
     If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others
     of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power
     called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long
     as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces
     itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot
     dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no
     one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of
     it.
     
   In my own software discipline there is also obviously considerable
   writing on this idea, and we can also read from the Free Software
   Foundation's Words to Avoid which speaks of "Intellectual Property":
   
     Publishers and lawyers like to describe copyright as ``intellectual
     property.'' This term carries a hidden assumption---that the most
     natural way to think about the issue of copying is based on an
     analogy with physical objects, and our ideas of them as property.
     
     But this analogy overlooks the crucial difference between material
     objects and information: information can be copied and shared
     almost effortlessly, while material objects can't be. Basing your
     thinking on this analogy is tantamount to ignoring that difference.
     
   This issue of language is also talked about in magazines such as in a
   recent Open Magazine editorial from July 2001 which indicated of
   Microsoft's Craig Mundie's commentary about Open Source software:
   
     In one fell swoop, Mundie commandeered the knowledge economy and
     turned it into the intellectual property economy. This
     extraordinary bit of legerdemain equates intellectual capital with
     intellectual property, analogous to the 19th-century economic
     policy of tying the supply of money to the physical supply of
     gold/silver
     
   We must keep the above in mind when considering any potential
   copyright reforms. Those of us who think about and are trying new
   business models that may form the basis for a new economy question
   whether or not the concept of "Intellectual Property" is necessary --
   or even compatible with -- the creation of "opportunities for
   Canadians in the new economy".

---
 Russell McOrmond, Internet Consultant: <http://www.flora.ca/>
 Free Sklyarov http://www.dibona.com/dmca/ http://www.freesklyarov.org/ 
 http://www.flora.org/dmca/ Oppose DMCA in Canada! (C) reform process....
 http://russell.flora.org/drafts/copyright-2001.html My submission...

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