Limited monopoly and the solo inventor
The case against intellectual property is not that wealth is less important that freedom. It is that it is not possible to grant limited monopolies, and hence the government should not be in the business of granting unlimited ones.
Why isn't it possible to grant limited monopolies? Because they create wealth that is used to lobby the government for less-limited monopolies, which creates more wealth, which is used to lobby the government for even less limited monopolies. This is the story of IP in the US: every term extension has led to another term extension.... The key problem is that intellectual property corrupts. Lucas Gonze. Re: Truth from the highest hits [ decentralization]
Failure to defend intellectual property has ruined some of our greated inventive geniuses. The April issue of Wired has a story on Philo Farnsworth, who invented television but died broke. Margaret Cheney's Tesla: Man out of Time tells an even more heartrending tale. So desperate was Tesla to see his alternating current system brought to life, in the face of stiff competition from Edison's direct current, that he sold his rights to the technology to Westinghouse for a pittance. Tesla also died broke. More to the point, both men's creative energies were mercilessly sapped by their failure to defend their IP, and to translate it into even a fraction of the vast wealth their inventions produced. In both cases, society was thus deprived of follow-on invention, and follow-on wealth.
Neverthess, Lucas makes a compelling argument. If, in fact, limited monopolies do not work, than how do we nurture our Farnsworths and Teslas?
Former URL: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2002/03/10.html#a123