The Last Defence Of The IP System: An Interview With Jamie Boyle28/01/2009 by Intellectual Property Watch 7 CommentsShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The views expressed in this column are solely those of the authors and are not associated with Intellectual Property Watch. IP-Watch expressly disclaims and refuses any responsibility or liability for the content, style or form of any posts made to this forum, which remain solely the responsibility of their authors.James Boyle is a leading thinker on copyright and knowledge access, and is author of a new book called The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind (available at thepublicdomain.org or here as a PDF). He is a law professor and cofounder of the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke Law School. Boyle spoke recently with William New of Intellectual Property Watch on his book and recommendations for the new leadership of the World Intellectual Property Organization, European Union and the United States.INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY WATCH (IPW): Your new book is likely to stir significant debate. What is the public domain, why is it shrinking, and what should be done about it?JAMIE BOYLE (BOYLE): The public domain is the well of material that is free for all to use without commission or fee, so, e = mc2, the works of Shakespeare, the works of Mozart. More broadly it’s the boundary line on the other side of the intellectual property right. The thesis of the book is that it’s not intellectual property alone that is responsible for encouraging innovation or creativity or even for serving the interest of creators, but the mix between, and the balance between intellectual property and the public domain. The entire thesis of the book is that we have to get the balance right, we have to figure out where we need rights and where those rights should stop [and] that we have to do so based on evidence. We have to look at the effects of intellectual property rights, and look at extensions and look at arguments that we need to extend this right or to expand that right or create a new right. And actually look to see if there is any empirical evidence to support that.If we do extend the rights, then we have to check to see whether or not our intervention has been successful, just as we would in any other regulatory endeavour. If we were introducing a new environmental protection, for example.We can in fact harm creativity, innovation, the advance of technology and science, new medicines, by getting that balance wrong, by putting the lines in the wrong places. I have argued that, for a variety of reasons which I lay out in the book, all of the pressures on intellectual property have been outward. We have only been expanding rights. If you look back at the development of treaties, if you look back at the development of new rights, we have moved rights only in one direction. And when we have harmonised internationally, we have harmonised almost always, with a few exceptions, upward rather than downward, making the rights larger, and stronger and bigger, in the absence of evidence. We haven’t done careful reviews of the effects of this.So basically mine is a clarion call to say we have worked as though we were assuming that increasing the rights automatically brought more innovation, but in fact that’s wrong, as a simple analysis will suggest, since intellectual property needs – indeed builds – on raw material: scientists need gene sequences, coders need access to lines of code, novelists need access to genres, musicians to obviously build on the work of others. And if we get the balance wrong, as I think we are, and if we expand only outwards, as we are, and if we make exceptions and limitations optional but make the new rights mandatory, then we are going to systematically mess up our intellectual property system. And that is what I think we have been doing.IPW: We hear a lot about the need for balance in the protection of rights in the policy community, at the World Trade Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization, World Health Organization and the national or regional level. It seems the policymakers are grappling with where the balance needs to be. Where precisely does that balance lie? How do we measure it? And what policies do we need or need to happen in order to obtain it?BOYLE: Well, first of all, I think we should start from a simple premise, which is intellectual property rights are limited monopolies which we create for various pressing social needs to encourage the development of drugs, to encourage and reward authors, inventors, musicians, computer programmers, and so forth, and the people who distribute their work, they serve an extraordinarily valuable function, and I am a great defender of them, I think they’re extremely important. However, they are limited monopolies.“The first thing that our policymaker should do is realise that every time you protect somebody’s output, their intellectual work, you extend their trademark, you give them control over some gene sequence, some line of code, you have extensive software patents, you are raising the costs of the inputs to another innovator further upstream.”So the first thing is that our presumption should be just as it is with any other governmentally created monopoly. Our presumption should be one of scepticism: make the case that this is necessary. So the … argument, which I develop, is that we need to start from the Jeffersonian or Madisonian or Macaulay baseline, which is these rights may well be necessary and may well be absolutely fundamental to a particular industry, as they are for example I believe in the case of patents on pharmaceuticals. But the burden of proof is on those who wish to create a new right or to extend it unless they can come forward with pressing evidence which consists of something other than anecdotes. Then I think that case fails, just as it would if I said I need you to give me a telephone monopoly or I need you to give me a telecommunications monopoly or I need you to give me a broadcasting monopoly. We’d say: “Why? Show me the evidence.” I think we’ve failed to apply that basic test, and in the book I get into a lot of examples. But I think the database directive in the EU is one of the most glaring ones, I think the broadcast treaty that was considered by WIPO is another one. A complete absence of consideration of evidence, and when evidence isn’t examined then we find that in fact not only is the proposed new right actually not necessary, as in the case of the database directive, but it’s actually harmful.IPW: You’re based in the United States but you’ve cited a couple of examples internationally. Are these universal principles and how does any given government, whether least developed or most developed, take these into consideration at the national level and begin to implement them? What should they be looking for? What actions do they need to be taking if they accept that there is in fact a problem?BOYLE: In terms of what a government should be doing, I really think that some of what they should be doing is just what they do in every other area. So if I come to you and I say: “I really need you to approve this new drug, and I think it will really help, and I have a friend who took some and he feels much better.” That wouldn’t pass the laugh test. If I came to you and said: “You know, I think the best way to regulate particulate emissions is to require that the level be, oh I don’t know, 500 parts per million.” That wouldn’t pass the laugh test. But we do exactly the equivalent of that in the intellectual property arena.If you look at the history of the database directive, [a study of other countries] was simply not done. The EU simply presumed that since the United States was doing very well with no protection for unoriginal compilations of fact, that they would clearly do much better if they had that protection. In other words, they made the assumption that more rights obviously leads to more innovation, to more investment. In other words, they focused only on the output side and not on the input side. That’s a basic conceptual error.The first thing that our policymaker should do is realise that every time you protect somebody’s output, their intellectual work, you extend their trademark, you give them control over some gene sequence, some line of code, you have extensive software patents, you are raising the costs of the inputs to another innovator further upstream. The very first thing you do is look at that balance and say I want to get it right. The next thing you do is look at the evidence, and ideally you look comparatively and internationally to see what’s worked. That’s just the beginning of the inquiry. We actually have to get the balance right, look at inputs and outputs, and let’s look at the evidence. [If not] you simply have no chance at making good policy at all.IPW: Looking at the World Intellectual Property Organization and the broadcasting treaty, there is an example of something where ten years of energy and time and significant resources have been spent pursuing something that many argue the world moved past if there was ever a need. What could a body like that be addressing? What kinds of multilateral-level actions could be taken that could then trickle down to the national level and give some guidance – a piece of legislation, a treaty, maybe an access to knowledge treaty?BOYLE: Well, I think access to knowledge is a very interesting set of initiatives. I think I’d start with limitations and exceptions. The debate around intellectual property right now is predominantly built around the need for harmonisation. Harmonisation has enormous plusses, for obvious reasons, in terms of trade, in terms of uniform investment expectations and so forth. It does have a significant minus, which is we’re denying ourselves what the Americans call the laboratories for politics, in other words, multiple people having different approaches so that we can see what works. But it obviously has great advantages.“The fact that WIPO has failed to put significant enough resources, and the EU also has failed to put significant enough resources into harmonising and studying fully what limitations and exceptions we need, is really a fundamental flaw in both of the organisational strategies involved.”If we are going to pursue uniformity, and that has been the claim, in order to facilitate trade and investment in innovative technologies, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever – and I think this is self-evident as a basic economic truth – for us to harmonise the rights, but leave the exceptions optional. Because then you basically place someone who is investing in a technology or investing in a productive process in the awful situation of being at the mercy of the state with the most restrictive, the most limited set of limitations. For example, one area, decompiling software, that is to say taking software apart in order to see how it works in order to create a completely separate programme that competes with it. In United States, that’s clearly fair use. In some other countries, it’s not clearly fair use. In certain countries, quotation, certain forms of satire or parody may be fair use. In other countries it’s more doubtful. If you have a situation where, particularly given the globalisation the internet brings to us, where I am constantly at the danger of the state with the most restrictive set of limitations, then you’ve undone all of the benefits that uniformity was supposed to provide. And the fact that WIPO has failed to put significant enough resources, and the EU also has failed to put significant enough resources into harmonising and studying fully what limitations and exceptions we need, is really a fundamental flaw in both of the organisational strategies involved.IPW: But what’s wrong with the simple notion of protecting the rights to encourage innovation and reward creators? Why are you not arguing that in a multilateral context or national-level context, rightsholders should be protected first and foremost?BOYLE: Well, I think, again, it comes back to the point that you have to look at the balance between protection, limitation in a state-controlled monopoly, and the other side, which is freedom, the freedom to build, the freedom to use without permission or fee.If a scientist takes material, data which is in the public domain, and makes something of it, we say that’s wonderful. Only in very limited set of circumstances, a particular original expression, in the case of copyright, original, useful, novel invention in the case of patents, do we create rights. And we say those rights need to be as limited as possible because every time we create a right, we are imposing two very large sets of losses on society. We’re creating passive losses because people who would have purchased the good at its marginal cost can’t because you’ve given a limited monopoly that allows a person to charge over marginal cost. And we’re imposing active or dynamic losses because we’re raising the cost of this, whatever it is, invention, a database, this line of code, [which] can’t be used by the person further down the stream to create something new. Two large losses being imposed.“Every time we create a right, we are imposing two very large sets of losses on society.”Now, it’s often worth us doing that, for example in the case of pharmaceutical patents, or we wouldn’t get the drugs developed in the first place. It’s worth raising the cost of the drug, and it’s worth, in some cases, restricting development, even though we actually, thankfully, craft patent rules to allow the second comer to come in and use the patent and build on it. So in that case, we know it’s worth it because we’ve looked at the development and tried to study how the pharmaceutical patents work. Of course, they didn’t work for the neglected diseases, where we need other approaches.But that’s a limited set of circumstances. It is simply not the case that if I increase intellectual property rights, if I gave you a patent over algebra or gave you a copyright over the alphabet, would this encourage protection, would this encourage innovation. No. On the contrary, it would harm it, it would hurt it. The idea that by increasing rights we automatically increase innovation or invention is simply a fallacy. It’s logically incoherent.IPW: So you would say we’ve reached the point where we need the pendulum to swing backward. Can you give us an example of where we’ve gone awry?BOYLE: Certainly. One of the things that intellectual property rights can do is that they can restrict cultural access. And that is obviously a negative effect, we only do it where it is absolutely necessary. So for example, if you’re raising the cost of someone to read Shakespeare online or be able to use Shakespeare as the basis for a new story, we only want to do that if it’s absolutely necessary in order to provide an incentive to Shakespeare or to his publishers.We have gone around extending the term of copyright. And despite the fact that there is utterly clear evidence that it provides no meaningful incentive to creators – there is not a single reputable economist who will come to you and say that extending the copyright term from life plus fifty (50) years to life plus seventy (70), creates any incentive whatsoever. Discounted to present value is of such a tiny amount, the utility of that extra extension, that it basically has no social benefit, and I think the Cambridge study that was done for the Gowers review is a wonderful summary of the evidence. The Nobel Prize winners who produced a brief in the Eldred case also made this point clear. So we are getting no social benefit for these extensions and we make them retrospective. Now it’s pretty hard to incentivise dead authors. So retrospective extensions are particularly odious.“The idea that by increasing rights we automatically increase innovation or invention is simply a fallacy. It’s logically incoherent.”And, because copyright is a strict liability system, and because, for the majority of works in many cases, in particular in the case of films, for example, that are actually in our great National Archive, are orphan works, when we retrospectively extend protection, we are saying, these can only be reproduced, these can only be shown publicly, these can only be built on with the permission of the copyright holder, who isn’t there and can’t be found. So the vast majority of twentieth century culture is a) commercially unavailable, so you can’t buy it even if you wanted to, and b) an orphan work. By retrospectively extending copyright over these works, we have meant that, not only are they locked up, and in the case of films, literally crumbling in the library, we can’t get access to them, even if we were willing to pay, and we have done this in order to create no social benefit whatsoever. So on the downside, we lock up most of twentieth century culture, making it completely inaccessible except to those who have the resources to get to one of the great world libraries. And on the upside, we get no benefit. That is a classic case of completely failed, dysfunctional policymaking. It’s the kind of thing that people should be fired for.IPW: You’ve invoked some of the classical thinking – American founding father Thomas Jefferson – for instance, among others, and in his case you found caution in his words. What’s the importance of an historical perspective on IP and understanding how we got to where we are today?BOYLE: I summarise what Jefferson says and I say that this is a warning which we should give to policymakers rather the same way Miranda warning is administered to suspects who are arrested in the United States [reminding them of their legal rights].First, the stuff we cover with intellectual property rights has vital differences from the stuff we cover with tangible property rights. Partly because of those differences, Jefferson, like most of his successors in the United States doesn’t see intellectual property as a claim of natural rights based on expended labour. Instead, it’s a temporary state created monopoly given to encourage further innovation. There is no entitlement to have an intellectual property right, and rights may or may not be given as a matter of social will or convenience without claim or complaint from anyone.Intellectual property rights shouldn’t be permanent, in fact they should be tightly limited in time and scope and shouldn’t last a day longer than necessary to encourage innovation in the first place. They have considerable monopolistic dangers and may produce more embarrassment than advantage. Since intellectual property rights potentially restrain the benevolent tendency of ideas freely to spread to one another across the globe and for the moral neutral instruction of man, they may in some case hinder rather than encourage innovation. And fifth, deciding to have an intellectual property system is only the first in a long set of choices. You then have to decide about scope, length and extent. As I point out in the book, it is simply not true that these concerns are limited to the Anglo American tradition. If you look at Condorcet, writing at the birth of the droits d’auteur tradition, you see the same thing.I think Jefferson’s basic point is that there is a fundamental confusion between intellectual property rights and tangible property rights. I do believe in intellectual property. I believe that authors should have a right to protect their works. I believe that inventors have a right that should be protected by the patent system. I believe that copyright, particularly the form of copyright that was current in the United States, say, around the mid- to late-1970s and in Europe at roughly the same time, is an utterly defensible system as is the basis of the patent system.I view myself as one of the last defenders of the intellectual property system. Because what I am trying to defend is the core of excellent good sense at its heart, and to save it from what are effectively the steroids that have been pumped into it by the representatives of various content and other companies, who’ve decided that they need increasing rights on every scope. So I’m trying to defend intellectual property and I think that Jefferson helps us.“Intellectual property rights shouldn’t be permanent, in fact they should be tightly limited in time and scope and shouldn’t last a day longer than necessary to encourage innovation in the first place. They have considerable monopolistic dangers and may produce more embarrassment than advantage.”Over the last fifty years intellectual property rights have only extended, only gone outward, in scope – which if you think about it is kind of remarkable, given that one would assume that getting the right level is a matter of titration, how could it be that we are constantly expanding the rights, only ever extending them. The most commonly given explanation is, new and cheaper forms of copying mean that as the copying gets cheaper, the rights need to get stronger. That may well be true in some cases, but if you think about it for a moment, which apparently policymakers don’t, you’ll find that there is a simple flaw in the logic. If I gave you a choice between a market of a million people in which you had total control over your recordings or your software, so that there is the zero illicit copying, and a market of a billion people, in which there is a twenty percent rate of illicit copying, which would you pick? Unless you were an idiot, you’d pick the second one. Would you then make the claim that since there is now twenty percent illicit copying, your rights need to be twenty percent stronger? Well, if you did, that would be an economic fallacy. In fact, it would probably be the case that if you were getting an adequate return in the small market, that you are getting a more than adequate return in the large market, since your scale has dramatically increased. And that point is one that we need to look at.In a particular case, it may be that the internet is a great threat to the music industry and we need stronger rights, or a particular threat to software and we need stronger rights. I’m agnostic. I just want people to look at the data. And the fact that we’re not looking at the data beyond people saying: “well, if everyone who bought with…who now pirates Windows bought a copy, we’d have 800 trillion dollars” – which isn’t actually a statistic. If we’re not looking at the data, how could we possibly be getting it right? It would be like me closing my eyes and stabbing at a particular directory, and saying whatever my finger hits will be the level of environmental protection that we’ll have in the United States. That’s insane.IPW: You cast in a positive light, and you embody your own practice as your book is available through the Creative Commons licence, as our materials are. The benefits of open access, even of new creative works…“I view myself as one of the last defenders of the intellectual property system. Because what I am trying to defend is the core of excellent good sense at its heart, and to save it from what are effectively the steroids that have been pumped into it by the representatives of various content and other companies.”BOYLE: Yes, and I think my publisher, Yale University Press, commendably, allowed me to make this available under Creative Commons, and the book is, so far at least, selling very well. I think open access and commercial forms of distribution are not incompatible. If you look at IBM, IBM is the largest patent holder in the world and they now make twice as much from Linux-related revenues, open-source software-related revenues, as they make through their patent portfolio. They’re not doing it for charity, they’re not doing it because they’re ideologues, they’re not even doing that because they love freedom, or they love the inventive possibilities which it creates worldwide. They’re doing it because it helps their bottom line.So, one of the other points I make in the book is there is a really sad tendency of the intellectual property establishment to assume that any new business method which doesn’t use the rights and methods they’re familiar with – that is to say use them to exclude – is automatically anti-intellectual property. This is just ridiculous. It’s like saying that if you have a condominium with a shared stairwell, that that’s anti-physical property. It’s simply a method of employing it, a method of using the rights. I use my copyright in order to make it available online, but to limit commercial reproduction. Open source software people use their property rights over software to create a new ever-enlarging commons of software. That’s a method that WIPO ought to be studying and embracing because it is a matter of human innovativeness to use intellectual property rights in new ways. It’s not an attack, it’s a use.IPW: Do you have a sort of formula for a creator to benefit from a more open approach? Is preventing commercial reproduction enough?BOYLE: My position is one of agnosticism, again. I think it works for some kinds of creators in some places. I think the set of creators for whom it works is probably larger than we imagine. In the book, I argue that we have something that I call “cultural agoraphobia,” that we persistently underestimate the benefits of open approaches and overestimate the benefit of closed approaches, underestimate the dangers of closed approaches and overestimate the dangers of open approaches. So I think that in lots of situations, probably more than we imagine, it might well be consistent with it. Cory Doctorow, the very successful science fiction author makes all of his commercial novels available under Creative Commons licences. He has no academic salary to fall back on, he’s not merely a niche author dealing to a set of policy wonks, and he believes he does very well at it financially. We have lots of musicians, thousands of musicians who make their works available under Creative Commons licences and believe it brings notoriety to them. Most of those people use the non-commercial limitation as a way of allowing personal use, sampling and personal private sharing, but restricting commercial exploitation.The number one best selling MP3 album of 2008 was Ghosts by Nine Inch Nails. It made Trent Reznor a lot of money. And it was completely available for free copying under a Creative Commons Non Commercial Licence.“If we’re not looking at the data, how could we possibly be getting it right? It would be like me closing my eyes and stabbing at a particular directory, and saying whatever my finger hits will be the level of environmental protection that we’ll have in the United States. That’s insane.”But in some cases, it may be that allowing a commercial use is a valuable option. So the General Public Licence, which is the licence covering much open and free software, imposes no limitation on commercial use. I can build on the code you wrote, and I can sell my services for profit. The one thing I can’t do is close off the collected contributions that all of us, including me, made, and turn it private, and say no one can have access to it. How do people make money on that? They make money on tied services, on consulting, on hardware that uses it, on being the best in delivering the goods. Basically a set of services that run alongside the code, but don’t seek to exclude people from it.A lot of lawyers exclaim when they hear that, well that’ll never work, it’s absolutely impossible, you have to have proprietary control over the material that you generate. At which point I always ask them, “and you yourself as lawyers, do you have proprietary control over the arguments you make?” “Why no,” they say. “I borrow freely from all who made arguments before me and I am in turn borrowed from in the future. I quote from cases, and I mix my stuff together, and I use it all to provide advice, create new causes of action, then other lawyers do it and I do very nicely at it, thank you very much, because I’m providing a service, not attempting to close off access to the law and the legal arguments that I’m creating.” And that’s the way open source works. In that case, no commercial limitation is necessary. So I think it’s a case by case analysis, varying by the nature of the creation and the nature of the industry involved.IPW: Some have praised the Google library effort for all of the reasons that it is obviously praiseworthy, but raised some questions about it, mainly related to the private sector nature of the initiative. You are, I think, pretty strongly supportive of the effort, of the concept of getting all of those works online in some way. Do you have any concerns about where things might be heading? Is that as far as it extends? What’s your sort of vision for the future in our digital world?BOYLE: Well, the cultural heritage of mankind is too important to entrust to a particular company. That seems obvious. In many ways, the types of access that Google seems to be allowing in many ways seem admirable, but I don’t want a particular company to be a gatekeeper. We would be much better off if we had a rational copyright term policy, which we don’t.“Open source software people use their property rights over software to create a new ever-enlarging commons of software. That’s a method that WIPO ought to be studying and embracing because it is a matter of human innovativeness to use intellectual property rights in new ways. It’s not an attack, it’s a use.”A fairly reasonable one would be one that if you found the average commercial length of time that a copyright or work is commercially exploited for a particular form and then doubled it, and gave that to the author as an initial copyright term and then allowed an optional extension by the author, even for that amount of time again, let’s say, in the case of books, twenty-eight plus twenty-eight worked extremely well in the United States. That would mean that most material that’s not commercially available, about eighty-five percent by the end of twenty-five years, would go immediately into the public domain. And that would mean that the library that you were looking at, that would be capable of digitisation, would be everything that is produced starting before 1983 that are not commercially available and that were not renewed at the option of their copyright holder would be in the public domain.That means we wouldn’t have to rely on Google, that anyone could digitise that material, that it could be available for anyone and to anyone anywhere in the world with an internet connection. I’m not opposed to people maintaining their copyrights and extending them. If this work is still doing well in twenty-eight years, I might have renewed it under that system. Although of course, because I use a Creative Commons licence, you have no need of waiting until a copyright term expires. But I don’t think we should be relying on Google, and I think that the settlement that Google has entered into has many positive features, but in the long run will be profoundly harmful to the law of fair use.IPW: Yes. I’ll save you from having to answer that. Well, is there anything else you would like to mention to us here, to policymakers. Perhaps WIPO and its technical assistance that it delivers on the ground around the world, or WTO, maybe you have a view on TRIPS.BOYLE: I think the first thing that’s extraordinarily harmful is the demonisation of alternative views of intellectual property. Most frequently the scare-mongering is done by the representatives of the content industries for obvious reasons because the best way of avoiding public focus on completely unjustifiable public policies is to demonise those who criticise them. But it’s extremely unhelpful and it’s something that WIPO has occasionally been drawn into and should seek to avoid. If WIPO were really to live up to its charter, and I’m not sure whether it’s capable of doing that, it would actually be engaging in the kinds of studies that were done by the Gowers review, that were eventually done by the European Union on the database directive, after some prodding. It would actually be hiring people who are comparativists and economists. I know they’re hiring a couple of economists, although their version of what empirical studies are strikes me as profoundly misguided.“What WIPO needs to do is basically acknowledge that it has at times been drawn into that way of thinking and that it has at times been captured, and instead dedicate itself to becoming a respected neutral voice which actually offers the kind of technical expertise that it should always have offered.”They would be looking at it not through the point of view of ideologues on either side, but actually in the point of view of respectable policymakers who are actually attempting to make the world a better place. And the point about making the world a better place is that faith-based policies are not a good way to do it. Doing it on the basis of faith, or an ideologically indefensible position that more rights are better, is simply indefensible. And what WIPO needs to do is basically acknowledge that it has at times been drawn into that way of thinking and that it has at times been captured, and instead dedicate itself to becoming a respected neutral voice which actually offers the kind of technical expertise that it should always have offered. Which doesn’t mean a bunch of lawyers, like the people I train, who run around telling people: “Oh, well you can add a whole new set of super-duper Digital Millennium Copyright Act times three database protection and neighbouring rights too.” It means studying empirically, without partiality or bias, the actual effects of the policies that they have so unwisely been forcing on the world over the last fifty years.IPW: Would you advise the new US administration that the embracing of some of these concepts could help to spark innovative capabilities, etcetera, and help to turn around economies? Is it that kind of a chain of events?BOYLE: Well, absolutely. Obviously enormous amounts of money have to be pumped into all of the developed economies over the next year and a half. Everyone agrees on that. There has to be some kind of massive Keynesian deficit spending. What should we be pumping it into? Right, that’s the question. And under what conditions? I think there is an extremely strong case for pumping money into research that will lead to levels of innovation and technological growth and making that research available as a public good. It’s a very complicated issue to talk about where that money should be directed and under what kinds of conditions, but I think that there is a fairly strong case that there’s a good economic multiplier to the state as a provider of basic and, in some cases, of applied research, and that we now have a better understanding of where in the innovative chain it is best to start introducing intellectual property rights. And I think the answer is: as one gets close to the actual finished product that is going to market, then it is entirely appropriate to introduce intellectual property rights, but when they are introduced way downstream, they actually harm innovation. So if they were introduced at the very basis of the innovative process, that they hurt it.So I think there is an argument that governments could do well by investing some of these billions or trillions of dollars into a large-scale ramp-up of their scientific research and technological research and technological education developments as well as in the – the examples that come to mind from the world of the twentieth century, which were generally investments in physical infrastructure, the infrastructure of roads, for example – in many cases we have not yet built the superhighways of the mind. We have not yet facilitated the flows of scientific knowledge in ways that I describe in the book that we could. We’vebizarrely made a world in which the internet works incredibly well for porn and for shoes, but doesn’t work very well for the flow of scientific data. Much of scientific literature, in particular, which is often covered in copyrights and restrictions and digital rights management protections and so forth. And I think that changing course in that direction could actually have a powerful multiplier effect, and I give some examples in the book of places where free provision of government data has been an extraordinary method to prime the economic pump of activity.IPW: Thank you.IP-Watch intern Kiernan Murphy contributed to the preparation of this report.Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Related"The Last Defence Of The IP System: An Interview With Jamie Boyle" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.